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Report No. 152

7.4. Medical examination of the accused.-

Section 53 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 relates to compulsory medical examination of the accused at the request of the police, while section 54 is concerned with the right of the accused to get himself medically examined. Section 54 is a beneficiary provision which provides an opportunity to an arrested person to get himself medically examined to disprove the commission of any offence by him or to establish the commission of any offence against his body.

This provision is directly connected with the custodial crimes. Under the existing provisions of section 54, if a person under arrest is tortured or assaulted he may, when produced before the magistrate, make a request to the magistrate for the medical examination of his body to establish that he had been subjected to torture and physical assault during the period of detention. Though this right exists. Yet, as pointed out earlier, most of the arrested persons, especially those against whom custodial crimes are committed are ignorant of their right.

Even if the arrested person who is produced before the magistrate is aware of this right, he does not dare to make a complaint to the magistrate or make a request for medical examination in the presence of the police. In order to minimise the chances of custodial torture or sexual exploitation, it is necessary and desirable that section 54 should be strengthened in the interest of preventing malpractices.

When the accused is produced before a magistrate, it should be mandatory for the magistrate to enquire from the arrested person whether he has any complaint of torture and maltreatment or sexual exploitation in custody and the Magistrate should further intimate to the arrested person that he has a right under the law to get himself medically examined. As observed by Supreme Court in Sheela Barse v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1983 SC 378 it is also desirable that giving of such intimation and making enquiries should be in the absence of the police officer.

The magistrate, before making an enquiry from the arrested person, should ensure that no police officer is present along with the accused. We are of the opinion that section 54 needs amendment to make it more effective and meaningful. We are further of opinion that the amended section should set out in detail the matters to be recorded in the medical report. We may incidentally note that in Uttar Pradesh by U.P. Act 1 of 1984, amendments have been made in section 54.

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