Morgue staff & Cops withhold postmortem report fleece kin

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Bangalore: Even death, it appears, can be exploited by police in cahoots with Victoria Hospital morgue authorities. Withholding postmortem reports so as to extort money is a surefire method, with grieving families ready to pay up and move on.
Cops claim irregularities in the postmortem report and demand money to ‘make it alright’. During this interim, if family members approach Victoria Hospital for a copy, they are told to get a copy from police.
This revelation has now forced Victoria Hospital officials to send a notice to all police stations in the city and the police commissioner, asking them to collect postmortem reports within 48 hours. This notification is expected in the next few days.
Such cases have come to light in Victoria Hospital, and are common in Bowring Hospital and other government hospitals too.
Just last week, one case reached senior officials of Victoria Hospital – a rarity otherwise. The complainant was a relative of a family whose young son had committed suicide (details withheld on request). Even after two months, the postmortem report was not given to the family. Neither was a written request to the forensic department entertained. Forensic department officials said they would give the postmortem report only to the police.

When the family approached police officials to understand the situation, they were told the postmortem suggested murder and they would have to pay the officer Rs 5 lakh to get the report corrected.
“If there was evidence of foul play, police should have made arrests and started an inquiry into the matter, instead, they are negotiating over the report. Even after two months, the hospital is adamant about not releasing the postmortem report, which shows there’s a clear nexus,” the complainant informed Victoria Hospital officials.
PK Devdas, director and dean of Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, said the officials concerned were asked to give a statement. “In any case, the postmortem report is prepared within 24 hours. If police doesn’t pick it up in 48 hours and if relatives demand a copy, we’ll give it to them. A board to this effect will be put up near mortuaries,” he said.

THE MANY METHODS

This is not the first case of bribery, a Victoria Hospital employee told TOI on condition of anonymity. According to him, extortion tactics change based on the background of the family. “If it’s a person from the lower class, excuses are not given, Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 is demanded outright,” he said.
For others, there are many fake claims like alcohol content in the body and irregularities in the report. Outstation families are threatened with delay, and a minimum of Rs 5,000 changes hands.
In the past few years, there are many issues dogging postmortems. Though it’s a free procedure, money is demanded from the family. Banners announcing that no money need be paid for the postmortem are put up at the mortuary; however, these are scarecrows no one cares about.
Dr Devdas said any case that comes to their notice will be investigated and the officials prosecuted.

Police will be informed

The incident regarding possible malpractice involving police and mortuary officials will be taken up seriously. The head of the department has been asked to give a clarification on the delay in giving the postmortem report to the family. Action was also taken to ensure such instances are not repeated. A notice will be sent to all police stations and the commissioner of police, asking them to collect postmortem reports within 24 hours, or it will be given to the family. Boards announcing this will be put up at all mortuaries and in the hospital premises as well.

PK Devdas | director and dean, bangalore medical college and research institute

Inform us, action will be taken

Allegations of corruption against any police officer will be taken up by senior officers. Any irregularities can be reported to a senior officer and action will be taken. However, no report of such an incident has been filed with us so far. A postmortem report is part of any investigation and has to be procured as soon as possible. I don’t see reason for any delay in picking up the postmortem report from hospital authorities.

 

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