medicine is a profession, which can be as intriguing and captivating as it can
get. Forensic doctors are vital to criminal investigations because of their
skill to warm up even the coldest trail based on scientific facts. Dr. Tirath
Das Dogra, Forensic Medical Expert and Professor of Forensic Medicine, talks to
Medindia on the role of medical science in investigations relating to
maintaining law and order.
What additional skills does it take for a regular medical practitioner to
become a forensic medical specialist?
the mandatory completion of Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), a
doctor can specialize in Forensic Medicine, which is a Doctor of Medicine (M.D)
program. So forensic medicine requires knowledge of medical sciences. It is a
medical practice for investigative purpose, both civil and criminal, with the
intent of aiding law and the administration of justice. I was one of the first
few candidates to qualify in Forensic Medicine in 1972 from All India Institute
of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India.
What are the legal obligations of such a specialized practitioner?
any other medical doctor of any specialty, a forensic doctor is responsible
towards state and law. Doctors are in the service of the society at large.
What lies beyond servicing analyses of crime and murder for a forensic medical
doctors work more closely with law enforcement officials in their line of work
than any other doctor in any other specialty. Their work starts from reporting
crime, participating in investigations, performing autopsies and preparing
medical reports. Reconstruction of the scene of the crime and DNA profiling are
my areas of interest. Toxicology is also an integral part of forensic medicine.
To what extent is a forensic doctor involved in a legal proceeding?
involves toxicological work, contribution in further investigation, analysis of
the nature of the injury and the weapon, finding if bullets were used and
correlating injury, whether the injury was inflicted with a blunt or sharp
instrument. Once the case presents itself, the forensic doctor has to appear in
the court of law, submit reports and face cross-examination by defense counsel
for the evidence produced. Personally, in my career I have had many cases
referred from different parts of India and have had to travel to almost all the
states to give legal opinions.
How do you keep yourself emotionally stable or detached when you deal with
people at the extremities, such as criminals and victims? In your field where crime is a reality, has
it made you skeptical of old school values?
Initially it is difficult to deal with the emotions concerning human casualty.
But slowly one gets to learn to rise above the emotions, in all situations. The
primary purpose of anyone involved in civil or criminal investigation, the
police or a forensic medical specialist, is to ensure justice is served.
Emotions must not guide or influence the opinion. Analysis and report should be
based on and restricted to scientific facts. My values remain with me, but they
are personal, whereas my forensic medical practice is my profession. So my
profession is influenced by the functioning of the law of the land and in
accordance to the norms of investigation.
Q. There are many glamorized television serials
with criminal investigation theme. Do they even remotely resemble the real life
of a forensic medical specialist?
of groundwork is involved in an investigation and on many occasions a forensic
doctor will have to be present in the scene of the crime. It is an interesting
profession and I enjoy what I do, but it is not as glamorous as they show on
Forensic medicine elicits excitement because of its
nature to battle injustice with the aid of medical science. A profession that
constantly deals with the exceeding levels to which humans can stretch to cause
suffering is truly remarkable owing to its endeavors to solve crimes and serve
justice. Medindia thanks Dr. T.D. Dogra for his contribution in highlighting
the importance of forensic medicine