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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

ACONITUM  HAPELLTJS                                                  727

On the night of the llth June 1923, one Phulmani Miidain*! administered to her
husband aconite powder in the dhal as a love potion with the object of influencing his
heart. At about 10 o'clock that night the husband complained that he was feeling ill and
that there were burnings in his body; he also started vomiting. He was given some
medicine but he could not swallow it, and vomited it out. His condition grew worse, and
early in the morning, at about 4 am. he died. At the post-mortem examination there
were general venous congestion and haemorrhages in the mucous membrane of the stomach
while the heart was full of dark clotted blood. Aconite was detected in the vomited
matter, in the brass cup which had contained the dhal consumed by the husband, and in.
the portions of the viscera submitted to the Chemical Examiner. The woman was found
guilty and convicted under section 304-A, Indian Penal Code.

In his annual report for the year 1949, the Chemical Examiner to the Government
of Madras quotes two cases of homicide by aconite. In one case a young man was given
some chutney mixed with aconite by his niece (sister's daughter) with a view to killing
him so that she might not have to marry him. Soon after taking the chutney, the man
felt numbness of the tongue and later fell down unconscious, but he recovered under
prompt treatment. In the other case a man wanted to get rid of his only son, aged 4 years,
in order to get the benefit of his share of his property, and consequently administered
aconite in his food. After eating the food, the boy began to vomit, but he was removed
to hospital, where he recovered after treatment.

A case42 of multiple homicide by aconite is recorded. A woman administered the
poison with food to her husband, her step-son, aged 14 years, and her step-daughter, aged
6 years. Pain in the throat, vomiting and purging were observed and they died within
2 hours after the administration. Aconite was detected in the viscera, vomited matters
and in the brownish substance said to have been used.

A case 43 Of ordeal by aconite root is recorded. A gold necklace was lost in a house.
A man who was said to be an adept in the occult arts was brought by the owner to trace
out the culprit. Ten possible suspects were assembled and each of them was given a piece
of aconite root to chew in betel leaves. One of them had vomitings and purgings but
recovered in hospital.

A case 44 occurred at the Darbhanga railway station, where aconite was administered
apparently for the purpose of committing robbery. At a sweetmeat stall a batch of six
passengers was taking their meals of curd and chura, when a man belonging to another
group of three became friendly with them and distributed some sugar from a packet
among the six passengers. Five of them took this sugar with their meals and soon after ~
wards " began to feel burning sensation and pain in the stomach ". They all suffered from
vomiting but had no purging, and four of them died in a few hours.

Aconite is sometimes added to Indian liquors to increase the intoxicat-
ing effect, and causes poisonous symptoms followed occasionally by death*
Such cases are common in the districts of Burdwan, Birbhum and Hooghly.
In his annual report for the year 1940, the Chemical Examiner, Bengal,
mentions a case in which a party of forty-three men assembled to drink
^pachwai (fermented rice gruel) in a liquor shop at Burdwan, Soon after,
all of them developed symptoms of aconite poisoning and two of them died
in 6 to 9 hours. In the district of Birbrum forty-five persons suffered from
the symptoms of aconite poisoning after drinking pachwai adulterated with
aconite. Eleven out of them died.45

In rare instances aconite root has been used as an abortifacient. In his
annual report for the year 1946 the Chemical Examiner, Bengal, reports the
case of a widow, 35 years old, who took powdered aconite root with a view
to causing miscarriage. She died from the toxic symptoms after she aborted.
In his annual report for the year 1934 he also describes a case in which
aconite was intended to be given as an abortifacient. One aunt-in-law po-
cured a few aconite pills for administration to a daughter-in-law in a case of
illicit pregnancy. The mother-in-law of the girl having noticed the same

41.    Patna High Court Cr. Appeal No. 194 of 1923; 25 Criminal Law Jour., June 1924,
p. 449.

42.    Bengal Chemical Examiner's Annual Report, 1932, p. 14; see also Annual Report,
1950.

43.    Madras Chem. Exam. Annual Rep., 1934, p. 4.

44.    Bengal Chem. Exam. Annual Rep., 1937, p. 13.

45.    Beng. Chem. Exam. Annual Rep., 1944; see also Beng. Chem. Exam. Ann. Report^
1946 and 1949.