NHRC webinar on Forensic Science setup dominates the sentiment that the country lacks the adequate number of forensic laboratories and manpower to handle them

New Delhi: 11th August, 2020

The webinar organized by the National Human rights Commission, NHRC India today on Forensic Science setup in India and related issues concluded with the most commonly expressed view that the country lacks the adequate number of Forensic laboratories and manpower to handle them. Several important suggestions emerged during the online discussions.

Earlier, inaugurating the webinar, the NHRC Member, Mr. Justice P. C. Pant said that Forensic Examination is very important evidence in criminal justice system for successful administration of justice. He said that there is also a need for the Judiciary & investigating agencies to be aware of general procedures & principles followed in forensics while collecting & examining the physical evidences from the scene of occurrence. There is also a need to create awareness among media & general public about not disclose sensitive information & techniques that can hinder the process of investigation & trial.

Justice Pant said that the NHRC has also been raising the issue of increased pendency in Forensic labs due to which cases pile up in trial courts & under trial prisoners languish in jails. The Commission has issued various guidelines also from time to time, on conduct of autopsies, medico-legal reports, use of ballistics, scientific collection of evidences & so on. Growing dependence on forensic evidences and the dynamic nature of change in crime patterns with the surge of cyber-crime necessitates filling up of vacant posts urgently in Forensic laboratories to clear large pendency, budgetary support training.

Triggering the session, Mr. Jaideep Govind Secretary General said that the objective of the webinar is to sensitize all the stakeholders about the functioning of the important fields of Forensic Science, especially in the context of custodial deaths cases, encounter deaths cases and investigation of cases involving serious human rights violations. The Commission deals with a number of cases related to deaths in police and judicial custody as well as encounters. The Forensic report is one of the important reports, among others, to decide the case of human rights violation.

Ms. Punya Salila Srivastava, JS, MHA spoke on the large amount of funds given to States & Central forensic labs for building capacities. How forensic infrastructure is being built up under police modernisation scheme & Nirbhaya fund. Centers of excellence like University at Gujarat, Gandhinagar are being built up esp. after the Criminal law amendment act 2018. More than 200 crore has been sanctioned in last 2 years for forensic science.

In her concluding remarks, the NHRC Member, Mrs. Jyotika Karla, while appreciating various suggestions, said that in order to insure the safety of women, it will be necessary to strengthen gathering of digital forensic evidence. She said that sexual assault kits needs to be made available to all the forensic labs to facilities forensic examination of such cases. She expressed the hope that with the sanctioning of Rs. 200 crores by the Center, the states would take pro-active action to improve the forensic laboratories to work more effectively.

The webinar was divided into three thematic sessions including “Forensic Science set up in India: Forensic Ballistics & Speaker Identification” addressed by Dr. S.K Jain Director cum Chief Forensic Scientist DFSS, Delhi, “DNA Profiling & Forensic Importance” addressed by Dr. I. Haque Dy. Director CFSL, Chandigarh and “Medico-Legal Investigation of Custodial Deaths in India – Journey since inception of NHRC” addressed by Prof. Dr. Adarsh Kumar AIIMS, Delhi.

Several suggestions emerge during the online discussion. Some of which are as follow:

• Bring in uniformity under an SOP for conducting Forensic Examination;

• Fill in all the vacant posts in Forensic Science laboratories, provide them with sufficient infrastructure and funds;

• Introduce Forensic study and training in MBBS course;

• Introduce Forensic law studies as a separate course curriculum in integrated BSc (Forensic) LLB;

• Increase the Number of Forensic Labs in proportion to the number of cases to examine to avoid delay in administering justice;

• Create the post of District Medico Legal expert;

• Introduce professionalism in the photography and videography of post mortem;

• Make post mortem an important activity for medical professionals with proper orientation to the Doctors about medico-legal procedures;

• Mortuary setup need to be improve with proper equipment and environment to facilities conduct of post-mortem;

More than 190 participations attended the webinar, who besides the NHRC Members and officers included, among others, representatives of Chief Secretaries and DGPs from all the States / UTs, Central and State Forensic Labs, National Forensic Universities, Representatives from MHA, DFSS, BPR&D, NICFS, CBI, NIA, CBCID of states, State Police Academies.