Write a Short Note on Exhumation


Humans have always had particular practices for dealing with the dead. Rituals, ceremonies, and wakes are all a part of how society acknowledges a person’s passing away. One of the most common funereal practices in the United States is the embalming and burial of the dead. If questions about cause or manner of death arise once the deceased is buried, the body must be dug up or removed from the mausoleum; this process is called an exhumation.

The term exhumation is derived from the Latin terms ex, which means “out of,” and humus, which means “ground.” As a result, the term literally means “out of the ground.” It is the process of digging up buried human remains for a variety of causes.

Death, time, and embalming methods can erase or conceal features that might otherwise be easily investigated. Embalming is the chemical treatment of a deceased human corpse in order to limit the presence and proliferation of microbes, slow organic decomposition, and restore an acceptable physical appearance. The major chemicals used to preserve the body are formaldehyde and formalin.

When faced with complex situations involving charred, decayed, or dismembered bodies, the forensic pathologist may consult with any of a wide range of forensic experts. Forensic anthropologists, entomologists, and odontologists may all be involved in a death inquiry.

Exhumation may occur under the following circumstances:

One could want to have a loved one resurrected after burial for a variety of reasons. Criminal investigations are frequently involved because new information may require extra forensic examination. Another consideration might be DNA testing, which could be used to verify or confirm the identification of the dead or, in rare circumstances, to establish parental or genealogical links.

  • For personal reasons (for example if the family of the deceased person want the remains to be moved to another burial ground)
  • For the sake of public health (for example if a cemetery is being moved)
  • Exhumation is ordered by the Minister of Justice as part of a criminal inquiry.

Exhumation Process In India

In India, there is no time restriction for exhuming a body. A police officer cannot order it since the deceased are typically not to be disturbed and the grave has some sacredness associated to it. Therefore, it can only be ordered in the interest of justice by a magistrate or a coroner.

After obtaining a special order from the court or coroner, exhumation should be carried out under the supervision of a medical officer and in the presence of a police officer. The police officer gives witnesses to identify the grave, casket, and deceased corpse. Exhumation must be performed early in the morning before the cemetery opens to the public so that there is some privacy and the entire procedure of excavating, as well as an autopsy if necessary, may be done throughout the day and the body reburied.

Process of Exhumation

The following are the practical parts of the technique along with the essential precautions to be followed during an exhumation, as with all other exams, it should be scheduled. The process may be segmented into:

  • General precautions Identification, and;
  • Opening the grave and collection of samples of Earth
  • Identification of the coffin and collection of samples
  • Identification of the body and its viewing by magistrate or coroner, and
  • An autopsy, if necessary.

Important steps in exhumation and post mortem examination include a thorough account of the incident, taking note of the following: the location of the grave, its type, its size (length, width, and depth), the number of bodies inside, whether or not a casket was used, the position of the body inside the grave, its condition, and the post-mortem examination (PME) itself.

MCQs on Forensic Law

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