RAFT 2022 (Reformation& advancement of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology) was organized by the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Aarupadai Veedu Medical College & Hospital (AVMC&H), under the auspices of Medico-Legal Association Puducherry (MLAP). The conference’s theme was ‘The Need of the hour for Forensic Medicine and Toxicology in India – Towards Vision 2030’.
As Crime rates are dependent on successful prosecutions, which in turn depend on the expertise of personnel involved in the investigation, Forensic experts develop the art of deduction by practice, training, and awareness of facts in hand. As per the media report, the overall national conviction rate for IPC cases is about 40%, and for sexual offenses, it is 18.9 %. The successful prosecution rate in the country by the Central Bureau of Investigation is 65% to 70%. Though the rate is higher than other investigative agencies, still it’s low for a national-level investigating body. There can be many factors for the low conviction rate, including failure of reporting, lack of awareness among the public, and hostility of victims/witnesses. But it becomes alarming when a reported crime is not handled correctly due to lack of standards in the investigation and limited/non-availability of either skilled personnel or appropriate infrastructure. This situation ultimately leads to a fall in society’s trust in the legal system. If continued, the present imbalance in the justice system will result in a chaotic, grieving, frustrated community.
If a criminal gets acquitted due to a lack of investigative agencies, it increases his confidence, and hence repetition of the crime is likely to occur. Similarly, punishment served to the wrongdoers sends a word of caution to those who plan to perform a crime. All legal systems aim to achieve a fall in crimes rates as it is linked directly with the progress of society and the nation.
Modernization of the various forensic fields has become necessary where skilled experts practicing with science-backed solutions and high ethical standards are required. Though there is a large gap between the societal demand and availability of forensic medicine experts in the country, and various media reports have highlighted the same, Various modalities for creating awareness mark the first step for the expected transformation. The National Medical Commission has also emphasized increasing focus as a medicine subject among undergraduates, exquisitely planned training for post-graduate students. In addition, efforts are needed for continuous education with hands-on drills for practicing experts. This requires utilizing all means of communication between the current and aspiring practitioners for teaching and imparting a culture of critical thinking, sincerity, calmness, and inter-departmental research. Plans to introduce sub-specialties should be in the pipeline as criminals train themselves too.
The goal of this two-day National Conference RAFT 2022 was to provide an insight on the international standards followed in the field of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology and was also to provide a clear picture of the Indian practice. Its aim was to educate the professionals on the various lacunae in our field and provide knowledge & opportunity for improvement and educating the professionals. This conference also provided a forum for networking and knowledge sharing.
The highlights of the conference were:
- Reputed resource persons from the international and national level
- Opportunity to share experiences and knowledge among medico-legal experts
- Explore the new ventures in the field
RAFT -2022 had a total of 342 registrations, which included forensic faculty, postgraduates, undergraduates, legal experts, and police officials. Faculties, post-graduates, and undergraduates participated in free scientific oral paper and poster presentations.
The National Conference RAFT 2022 was inaugurated starting with a welcome address by the organizing chairperson Dr. J. James Rajesh, Associate Professor & HOD (I/C), FMT, AVMC, which was followed by the Presidential address by the respected Dean Dr. P.F.Kotur. Dean appreciated the effort taken by the department and gave his best wishes. Dr. Arthy then introduced the theme of the conference to the audience. She stressed how a vision, skill, and righteousness are the Need of the hour for Forensic Medicine and Toxicology in India – towards Vision 2030. Director – Medical Research Dr. B. Vishu Bhat and Dean HPE Dr. V.N. Mahalakshmi congratulated the team and shared their inputs on the reformation warranted in the field of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology. President, MLAP Dr. Kusa Kumar Shaha shared his inputs on the theme of the conference and appreciated the effort taken by the team to make this program a success. Chief guest Dr. Mukesh Yadav, The General Secretary of the IAFM ( Indian Academy of Forensic Medicine – The Reg. National Body of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology in India), stressed the importance of strength and vision in the practice of forensic medicine. He went about to stress the importance of valuing the field and bringing change from within to make it a better place for the future generation.
This was followed by the release of e-Souvenir of the conference by our honorable Director, Dr. Anuradha Ganesan. She gave a brief outlook as to the importance of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology and wished the team the best of luck. The organizing secretary Dr. A Arthy, Assistant Professor, FMT thanked the august gathering and organizing team. The inauguration session was hosted by Dr. N Navin Kumar, Resident, Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology.
RAFT -2022 Conference Proceedings Day 1
Following the inauguration session, “Reformation in Criminal Justice System in India by amendments in Sec 174 CrPC” was taken by Dr. Mukesh Yadav, Principal, Government Allopathic Medical College. The chairpersons for the session were Dr. Sampath Kumar. P, Professor, FMT, Saveetha Medical College, and Dr. Sarvesh Tandon, Professor & Head, FMT, VMMC & Safdarjung Hospital. Dr. Mukesh Yadav gave a brief view on how the current inquisitorial procedure works, what is the change that is expected and how the change can be brought by. He insisted on the importance of Public Interest Litigation. He went about to share his experience with the judicial system and concluded with the message that persistence can move mountains.
The second session on “Raising Indian standards equivalent to International Forensic Pathologists – What they do abroad in relation to Forensic Pathology & Research in Forensic Medicine” was taken by Dr. O.P Murthy Professor, Forensic Medicine, and Toxicology, AIIMS, New Delhi. The session was chaired by Dr. Nagi Reddy G.V, Director, Viswa Bharathi Medical College, and Dr. Cyriac Job, Professor & Head, FMT, Govt Medical College, Manjeri, Kerala. Dr. OP Murthy showed multiple images of the foreign mortuaries he has worked on and explained the precautions to prevent infections that are available. The layout of each mortuary and the flow of air at the area of dissection. His speech was followed by a discussion on virtopsy, where Dr. Murthy insisted that the first aim should be to reach a higher standard of autopsy and conventional autopsies are better for Indian setup.
Dr. Kusa Kumar Shaha, Professor, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology & Prof of Examinations, JIPMER, Puducherry gave his speech on “Remodelling – UG & PG FMT curriculum, Teaching &Evaluation methods – What a PG/UG must learn? & How a PG/UG must be evaluated?” and the chairpersons for the session were Dr. Arun .M Professor& Head, FMT, JSS Medical College, Mysuru, Karnataka and Dr. Parashakthi. P, Director and Professor & Head, Institute of Forensic Medicine, MMC, Chennai. Dr. Shaha gave a holistic view of the challenges and reformation that are warranted in the undergraduate and post-graduate teaching-learning activities. For undergraduates, he insisted on outcome-based education along with assessment and for post-graduate more frequent assessments to give validated results.
Post-lunch Dr. Dasari Harish, Professor, and Head, Dept. Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, GMCH, Chandigarh presented on the topic “Scope for Super Specialties in Forensic Medicine &Toxicology – Way Forward”. The session was chaired by Dr. Vijay Kumar Nair, Professor & Head, FMT, Vice Principal, Vinayaga Missions Medical College, Karaikal, and Dr. Shreemantaa Kumar Dash, Professor & Head, FMT, AIIMS Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh. Dr. Dasari Harish highlighted the fields such as toxicology, pathology, psychiatry, and clinical forensics. He insisted on the co-operation of various departments to make such fields a reality for a super specialty.