Written by Dr. D. Rao

Exhumation is the digging out of an already buried body from the grave. There is no time limit for exhumation in India. It is done (1) In criminal cases, such as, homicide, suspected homicide disguised as suicide or other types of death, suspicious poisoning and death due to criminal abortion, (2) In civil cases, such as, accidental death claims, insurance, workman’s compensation claim, disputed identity, etc.

Procedure: The body is exhumed only when there is written order from appropriate Authority. The exact situation of the grave should be fixed by examination of the plan of grave yard if present. If it is masonry built, it should be identified by the mason and the name plate if any should be identified. The grave yard should be dug up. The condition of the burial clothes and the surface of the body should be noted. In cases of suspected mineral poisoning sample of earth (about ½ kg.) in actual contact with body and also from above, below and from each side should be collected. Any fluid or debris in the coffin should also be collected. A portion of coffin and burial clothes must be removed in order to exclude every possibility of contamination from external sources. The body should then be removed from the grave and should be identified by the relatives and friends.

Autopsy: Do not sprinkle disinfectant on the body. In a recently buried body, autopsy is conducted in the usual manner. In much putrefied body, an attempt should be made to establish identity. All the viscera should be preserved for chemical analysis. In suspected mineral poisoning hair, nails and long bones, e.g., femur should be preserved for chemical analysis. If the body is reduced to skeleton the bones should be examined. Samples for DNA can be obtained from Tooth Pulp and Bone Marrow in Skeletonised Bodies. Samples of Soil taken only when there is suspicion of Poisoning like heavy metals(Arscenic),Organophosporus .


On an order of the Coronor/Procurator Fiscal of ------------------------------------------------------ dated ----------------------------------- I proceeded to ------------------------------------------ at A.M. on ------------------------------- accompanied by: (1)---------------------------------------------(2)------------------------------------(3)-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The inquest was conducted by----------------------------------------------------------------------- The grave was identified by-------------------------------------------- After the grave was dug up at (time) --------------------------------------- I examined the condition of the burial clothes and the surface of the body. Samples of earth about (1/2 kg.) in actual contact with the body, from above, below and from each side were taken. The body was raised to the ground and was identified by 1.-------------------------- 2.---------------

Describe clothing.

Determine sex, age and stature.

Describe identifying marks if any.

Conduct autopsy in the usual manner and note all the findings.

External Examination and Internal Examination.

The following viscera were preserved and sealed for chemical analysis.

(1)                    (2)                    (3)                     (4)

The post-mortem was completed at------------------------------------

Approximate time of death.

Opinion as to the cause of death.