The refusal to handle medico-legal cases by Government Mata Kaushalya Hospital, Patiala, has become a bone of contention between the region’s two biggest hospitals.While the state government recently started emergency services in Mata Kaushalya Hospital with round-the-clock medical care to all types of emergency cases, including medico-legal examination of victims, the hospital authorities displayed a notice that medico-legal cases are not being dealt with in the hospital.This decision has not gone down well with the forensic medical experts working in Government Medical College Rajindra Hospital, Patiala.They say that the government hospital cannot refuse medico-legal examination of the victims and that the recent guidelines of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare say that the medico-legal examination of victims of sexual assault will not be refused even by doctors working in private hospitals.However, authorities of Mata Kaushalya Hospital claim that since the primary task of the hospital has always been that of a female-child care centre, handling medico-legal cases could lead to problems for women who might not feel comfortable coming to the hospital because of such cases.Dr Diwan Singh Bhullar, assistant professor in the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at Patiala medical college, claims that Section 164 (A) of the Criminal Procedure Code lays out the legal obligation of the health workers and registered medical practitioner (RMP) in cases of sexual violence.“This clearly means that the doctors of Mata Kaushalya Hospital cannot refuse examination of a medico-legal case. This practice is putting unnecessary pressure on the medical college which is already short of staff to handle so many cases,” he said.Dr Preetinder Singh Chahal, senior resident in the department of forensic medicine, claims that the doctors at Mata Kaushalya are — most of the times — choosy in examination of custodial and under-trial cases for giving medical fitness before sending them to police or jail custody. These otherwise were being dealt with previously at the community health centre emergency in Model Town and now have been shifted to Mata Kaushalya.Principal Secretary of the Health Department Vini Mahajan said the department would start the facility shortly.