A sessions court has passed an order in the Suleman Usman Bakery firing incident of 1993 not permitting a doctor who had conducted post mortem of victims, to testify before it by reading out from documents prepared by him during the procedure.
The 71-year-old retired medical professional had conducted the post-mortem of eight victims. He had come before the court in December last year to testify. At the time, the court was informed that the original documents of the hospital had been destroyed in 2005 as per an order of the city police commissioner. The doctor was required to make elaborate testimony of the types of injuries, etc, in his testimony. He was reading from the documents available in court record to testify. After the defence took objection to this, the prosecution made an application that he be permitted to refresh his memory by referring to reports he had prepared then. It had said that he had conducted the procedures 29 years ago and was thus entitled to refresh his memory while giving testimony in court.
The court has said in its order that the post-mortem was conducted 29 years ago, so naturally it is possible that he may not recollect contents of each report. It said as per the Evidence Act he may be permitted to refresh his memory and for that purpose, the witness may, with court permission, refer to copy of such documents.
However, it said that the witness cannot be permitted to read and depose about the post-mortems on the basis of reports available in court record. Further, he cannot be allowed to state facts by referring documents before the court.
On Jan 9, 1993, policemen allegedly fired on unarmed Muslims inside the bakery and its adjoining structures in Mohammad Ali Road. Seven policemen face trial. A top officer who was an accused has been discharged in the case.