Certification and Medico-Legal Aspects of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in India

Certification and Medico-Legal Aspects of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in India

Srinivasan Venkatesan, G. Y. Yashodharakumar
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7004-2.ch015
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With the emerging fields of medical jurisprudence and forensic medicine, cases of neurodevelopmental disorders in engagement or conflict with law are on the rise. Affected persons as alibi, victims, or perpetrators of crime are dotting as civil or criminal proceedings in contemporary courts. Rehabilitation specialists must be conversant with the medico-legal process, their duties, and responsibilities as subject experts to witness given their role in the certification of these cases. They must be aware of the problems and issues in certification during clinical practice. This chapter outlines the concerns related to estimation, measurement, and disability certification. Case vignettes are used to illustrate sample court proceedings during deposition before the attorney and at the time of cross-examination. Empirical research is reviewed before concluding this narrative with an agenda for future action to move away from traditional medical models toward understanding these disorders from human rights and person-in-environment perspectives.
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Irrespective of their nature, type, purpose, or content, all disability reports and certificates have the potential of becoming an instrument of a Medico-Legal Case (MLC). For example, a psychological report stating below average level of intellectual functioning in a student can turn into a medico-legal document following a complaint of any discriminatory practice at school. MLCs involve both medical and legal aspects. They require investigation by law enforcing agencies in order to essentially fix the responsibility regarding causation of some harm, offense or that which explains the present state of the individual (Meera, 2016; Raveesh, Nayak, & Kumbar, 2016; Aggrawal, 2015).

Encounters with judicial system for persons with Neurodevelopmental Disorders (NDD) can occur through civil or criminal proceedings. Civil proceedings occur wherein one party sues another for personal injuries. Criminal proceedings take place where the law is broken and charges are made by police as a result of an assault. In either case, it involves procedures and practices of questioning, production of records, swearing by a document called affidavit including case sheet, interview reports, audio-video samples, written samples, test protocols, etc. The questioning happens wherein the lawyer representing plaintiff (complainant or petitioner) has the opportunity to question the defendant (accused) under oath (Carter, 2011). Some examples of medico-legal cases related to NDD are assault or battery including domestic violence and child abuse, road traffic accidents or sports injuries, cases of physical or mental trauma with suspicion of foul play, electrical injuries, poisoning, drug overuse or alcohol intoxication, burns and chemical injuries, sexual offences, attempted suicide, cases of asphyxia, hanging, strangulation, drowning, suffocation, unnatural deaths, or firearm injuries.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Medico-Legal Cases: Case of injury or ailment in which investigations by law enforcing agencies are essential to fix responsibility regarding the causation of the said injury or ailment.

Confidentiality: A legally protected right that prohibits the health care provider from disclosing information communicated during the consultation to a third party about the patient.

Complainant (Syn. Plaintiff or Petitioner): The party who complains or sues in a civil action.

Public Prosecutor: A law officer who conducts criminal proceedings on behalf of the state or in public interest.

Medical Model: Arising from the biomedical perception of disability, this model believes in identifying or listing symptoms, categorizing them, making a diagnosis, before seeking to cure them.

POCSO Act: The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (2010) AU93: The in-text citation "Offences Act (2010)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. seeks to safeguard and protect children from pornography, assault, abuse, or harassment through child-friendly specially designated courts.

Rape: Sexual intercourse, or other forms of sexual penetration, committed by a perpetrator against a victim without their consent.

Civil Proceeding: A system of law based on regulation of private matters as distinct from criminal, political, or military matters.

Impairment: Any visible structural/anatomical loss of physical or sense organs in an individual.

Forensic Medicine: The application of medical knowledge to the investigation of crime.

Juvenile: The habitual committing of criminal acts or offences by a young.

Amicus Curiae: An impartial adviser to a court of law in a particular case.

Disability: Usually a consequence of impairment, it is the functional inability of an individual to perform any activity in the manner or within the range considered “normal” for any human being.

Medical Jurisprudence: The branch of law relating to medicine.

Bullying: An unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.

Battery: The infliction of unlawful personal violence on another person even when the contact does no harm.

Domestic Violence: A pattern of behavior which involves abuse or use of violence in marriage or cohabitation.

Handicap: Is a disadvantage resulting or consequence of impairment or as well as disability.

Human Rights Model: Unlike the medical model which views the individual as a victim and the core of the problem, the social model views barriers as the source of problems for persons with disability.

Informed Consent: Permission granted in full knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with knowledge of the possible risks and benefits.

Affidavit: A written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation for use as evidence in court.

Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct.

District Legal Services Authority: Based on the Legal Services Authority Act (1987) AU92: The in-text citation "Authority Act (1987)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , as amended in 1994, it constitutes a provision for free and competent legal services to the weaker sections (including the disabled) of the society. The tiers of these statutory bodies work at national, state, district and taluk levels, respectively.

Delinquency: Person especially one below the age of eighteen when criminal prosecution is disallowed.

Criminal Proceeding: A system of adjudication by law based on impeachment or using a charge or trial for misconduct which ends up in conviction or acquittal.

Plaintiff: A person who brings a case against another in a court of law.

Defendant (Accused): A person accused of committing a crime or a person against whom some type of civil relief is being sought.

Disorders: A group of disorders in which the developmental of the central nervous system is disturbed.

Attorney: A lawyer appointed to act for another person on legal matters.

Child Abuse: A physical maltreatment or sexual molestation of a child.

Assault: A physical attack.

Indian Penal Code: A comprehensive code in the country which is intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law.

Expert Witness: A person whose level of specialized knowledge or skill in a particular field qualifies them to present their opinion about the facts of a case during legal proceedings.

Victimization: The action of singling out for cruel and unjust treatment.

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