By Maxwell Pereira
police agency worth its salt can deliver goods, nor indeed survive
without an efficient forensic backup to prop its elbow up. A reader
of crime fiction or a viewer of crime/ detective movies will know.
The basics of crime detection and successful investigation depend
heavily on simultaneous and real time presence and assistance
of experts from various supportive disciplines - medical, forensic,
et al. You'd have invariably noticed the medical and forensic
chaps shoulder to shoulder with the police for inspection of any
so in India. In the absence of in-house police forensic labs,
investigators are constrained to innovate, establish expertise
from within for a 'crime team' proficient in the basics of crime
scene inspection - for collecting clues, storing and then sending
them to a 'Lab' for expert opinion; along the way, the system
fraught with expected human moods, sentiments and maladies!
1995 the Central Forensic Science Laboratory of the CBI was the
only one handling exhibits from Delhi Police. In fact, in the
very charter of the creation of CFSL the need to cater to cases
of Delhi had featured prominently. Exhibits collected from various
scenes of crime were being sent to CFSL for examination and report….
and experts from CFSL called to the scene to assist in collection
of clues, re-construction of crime and decide on the line of investigation.
Depending on CFSL whose administrative and operational control
remained with CBI was a handicap for Delhi Police though, resulting
in considerable difficulty.
years rolled on and CBI's role multiplied, the CFSL was over burdened
with CBI's own work, making it difficult to handle the voluminous
workload of Delhi Police. Cases that needed priority could not
get it. The problem compounded, when CFSL finally decided not
to accept Delhi Police cases. The BPR&D steps in, with an
adhoc arrangement with CFSLs Chandigarh, Kolkata and Hyderabad
to the rescue. This only added to delays in sending and collecting
exhibits, adversely affecting investigation process, and attracting
adverse criticism from courts. Instances of SHOs having to bear
the brunt not uncommon, often the courts even imposing 'costs'
of adjournment… not to talk of media criticism such juicy
tid-bits attracted, to the detriment of police image and efficiency.
Police made its bid for an FSL in 1989, in follow up of the 1985
recommendations of the Srivastava Committee, constituted after
the '84-Nov riots. Sanctioned in 3 phases, from the date of inception
envisaged a part of Delhi Police. Like many who headed the DP
Crime Branch and worked for establishing it, yours truly too had
the satisfaction of contributing, and seeing its Ist phase come
alive during my successor's tenure in 1995, with the DP-FSL consisting
of the Document, Biology and Serology Divisions established, under
the functional and administrative control of Delhi Police.
reasons of its own, the Delhi Government transferred the administrative
control to its Home Department within six months. In neighbouring
Haryana, Punjab, UP, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Forensic Science
Laboratories continued to function smoothly under the respective
DG Police. The efforts of Delhi Police to regain control of its
FSL have not found favour yet.
Delhi now takes up only a fixed and limited number of exhibits,
not able to cope up with the genuine requirement. So DP continues
to lean on CFSLs Kolkata and Hyderabad, which put together are
still not adequate for exhibits generated in Delhi. No timely
disposal of cases, especially those pertaining to analysis for
detection of poison(s) in viscera - crucial for ascertaining cause
of death in homicidal, suicidal or accidental deaths. This impedes
expeditious dispensation of criminal justice. Backlog of putrefying
viscera, mounting in Police Stations and at the FSLs/CFSL. Delay
in analysis of viscera adversely affects the quality of results,
diluting evidence. And poisonous substances that undergo chemical
changes due to putrefaction, pose danger and a great risk to the
health of scientists handling the same.
is urgent need to clear pendencies piled up, especially of toxicology.
The large number of posts of scientists reportedly lying vacant
needs to be filled up. There is need to expand capacity to cope
with Delhi's workload. It should be mandatory for FSLs to accept
exhibits presented by Investigating Officers. In case of inadequate
facility, the FSL should explore possibility at other labs to
forward the exhibits at their level - instead of the I.O. shuttling
from one lab to another. New areas that need attention to ensure
a steady growth of FSLs should be identified.
FSLs must share facilities, establish and maintain quality systems
and be linked through networking, to share information locally
and from laboratories abroad. Its staff, with multifarious skills,
with a wide range of specializations - the staffing pattern, to
include a forensic expert to accompany every 'crime team' to help
identify and lift initial clues from a crime scene. Ideally one
mobile team in each district besides one Central Team. And an
adequate budget provision for modernizing, with appropriate financial
powers to the Heads of these Laboratories to meet expenses.
importantly, the FSL-Delhi should once again be under the administrative
control of the police, since crime investigation process is in
itself the outcome of interaction between the forensic scientist
and the police - being the main user of the casework of forensic
words: dated 24.08.2004: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725
Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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