Post mortem report – After completing the postmortem examination, a complete but concise post mortem report should be written in duplicate using carbon papers. One copy is sent to the investigating officer and another copy is retained for future reference. Autopsy report should contain a list of specimens and samples retained for further examination.

The post mortem report should be given on the same day, as the details cannot be accurately recorded from memory, if there is much delay. If laboratory tests have to be carried out, an interium report should be written and later after obtaining the reports, a supplementary post mortem report is written.

It has been said with a considerable measure of truth, that autopsy reveals the diseases and lesions that the person lived with, and not necessarily those which killed him. A definite opinion should be given whenever possible, but if the cause of death cannot be found out, it should be mentioned in the post mortem report.

In such cases, viscera should be preserved and histological and bacteriological examinations carried out. While giving cause of death, the word ‘probably’ should be avoided. In suspected cases of poisoning, the opinion should be kept reserved until the Chemical Examiners post mortem report is received.

The conclusion that death was caused by poison depends on evaluation of clinical, autopsy, toxicologic and circumstantial evidence, If opinions are given to police before evaluation of data are complete, they should be clearly and unmistakably labelled as preliminary impressions, subject to change if and when the facts so warrant.

When the findings are less clear-cut, or are multiple, probability of various alternatives can be offered. It must be recognized that the determination of cause and manner of death are opinions, not facts. The opinion of one medico-legal officer can differ from another.

If the cause of death is not found on autopsy, the opinion as to the cause of death should be given in post mortem report as “undetermined” or “unascertained” and the manner of death as “unknown”. When there are no positive postmortem findings, the cause of death can be inferred from the accurate observations by reliable witnesses, concerning the circumstances of death.

Autopsy of Decomposed Bodies: It is a fundamental rule of forensic pathology that all human remains should be examined, even when they are not likely to provide information. Even when the body shows advanced decomposition, a thorough examination may show a gross traumatic or pathological lesion.

The skin though discolored, may show the presence of a gross external injury, e.g., a bullet wound, lacerated wound or incised wound Fractures are easily detected. Gross pathological lesions may be found, e.g., valvular lesions of the heart. Antemortem thrombi may persist.


The identity of a dead body may be destroyed by the following methods.

(1) Purposive removal of the identifying features, e.g., fingerprints, tattoo marks, scars, moles, teeth, hair, etc. and articles of clothing.

(2) Animals, e.g., rats, dogs, jackals and hyenas and birds, such as vultures may attack a dead body and mutilate it in a very short time, when the body is exposed in an open place.

(3 )Burning or incineration.

(4) Advanced putrefaction.

(5) Dismemberment and burying or throwing different parts in different places.

(6) Chemical destruction of the body in corrosive acids or alkalis.

(7) Dismemberment by moving vehicles, like trains or by machinery.

(8) Bomb explosions, which may disintegrate the body.