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, 26 (3), 254-60

Origin and Development of Forensic Medicine in India


Origin and Development of Forensic Medicine in India

Karunakaran Mathiharan. Am J Forensic Med Pathol.


Context: : The medical profession is one of great antiquity in India. However, the history of medicine and, in particular, the role of medicine in the administration of justice in India has not been discussed very much. The present paper attempts to fill in this lacuna and traces the medicolegal practice from ancient times to British India.

Source: : This paper is based on archival materials collected from the Tamilnadu State Archives, Chennai, and Madras Medical College Library, Chennai, and University of Madras Library, Chennai.

Main observations: : The medical men in ancient India were considered as men of wisdom, and one of the ancient Tamil hymns equates the doctor-patient relationship to that of the dedicated love of a devotee to God. Kautilya's Arthashastra gives a list forensic evidence for establishing the cause of death and describes the necessity of autopsy in establishing the cause of death. In British India, the early incidence of custodial death and its certification by medical practitioners, issuance of medical certificate and wound certificate, and medicolegal autopsy are documented. The most outstanding contribution of India to legal medicine during this period is modern dactylography. It is recorded that there was a high ratio of homicidal poisonings in India.

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