A warrant from Ganj Basoda for appearing in court on 7th August was shown to me on 5th August. It was an arrest warrant with the message stated on it as ‘Saakshi ko hathkadi na lagai jaaye’ meaning the ‘witness be not handcuffed’. I had not received summon earlier for the case and I was served warrant straight away. The warrant related to an autopsy case done by me in 2006!! The court was trying to locate me first at Gandhi Medical College because the seal below my signature mentioned it as my work place. Incidentally I also had a warrant from Sehore for a homicide case for 7th August already. The warrant from Sehore was a bailable warrant and the one from Ganj Basoda an arrest warrant, so it was only proper for me to go to Ganj Basoda and inform court at Sehore why I would not be coming.
Going to Ganj Basoda one thinks about train or road route. Finding a good train in the morning and a return train for evening does not provide too many options. Punjab mail seems to be the best. I got my reservation done but the train got diverted because of the rains. Now I had to consider going by road. The shortest road route from Bhopal to Ganj Basoda via Vidisha is 120 kms. I took feedback from people who travel by road and was informed that road journey would be quite comfortable. I decided to drive on the Highway, something I had not done for some time. I love to go for long drives on highway and enjoy it more when I am driving. So, the Swift took me for the long drive quite willingly and enthusiastically. The highway had green fields along the sides for most of its length and on a cloudy cool day, it felt like a perfect drive. Interesting how some vehicles seem to sometimes get a little ahead, then behind and begin to feel familiar as compared to vehicles you just cross once. There were trucks on the highway, there were narrow bridges, and small patches where traffic of one side could only go at a time and the vehicles would organize amongst themselves how and when to move. It took me two and half hours to reach Ganj Basoda and when I reached there it started raining quite heavily. The court premises had ample parking space so that I could park and walk to the courtroom quite conveniently.
A doctor is treated well in court and is shown due courtesy usually. I was offered a place to sit by the Magistrate and the file of the case was provided to me so that I could look at the autopsy report before giving evidence. The case was of a woman who had died after sustaining almost 80- 90 % burns. The case had gone from Magistrate court to session court and then High court and then was sent back to the Magistrate court when High court removed Section 309 IPC and left the case only with Section 498 IPC and an inquiry into the manner of death, suicidal, accidental or homicidal. Section 309 IPC refers to abetment to suicide which applies when the manner of death is fixed as suicidal. I was asked to come to the witness box although there were others waiting to give evidence. This gesture I always feel very thankful for, for it saves so much time! I dictated the autopsy findings and the opinion of the case, in Hindi, to the court. I was then cross examined quite intelligently by the lawyers for what I believed were very valid grounds for them to explore and understand if they wished to refute evidence like Dying Declaration given by the deceased. They questioned me on the presumptive compos mentis condition of the deceased at the time that she would have made the declaration, state of consciousness, her ability to speak with burn injuries on face and lips, the absence of ink mark on thumb (which was also burnt on palmar aspect), manner of death by the pattern of burn injuries and so on. The whole evidence took about 45 minutes and after meeting a couple of people over a quick cup of tea, I started my return journey at 3 pm.
Some sandwiches are very handy to eat on long drives, as you can eat and drive quite easily. I had packed some with me from home, which I now savored while driving back on the blissful drive with a perfect weather. There were many things I could explain to the court and could also have one of the most pleasant drives possible with the nature at its best.