Labs buried in backlogs, Delhi Police order mandatory forensic probe

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Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah (Image credit X @amitshah)

Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah (Image credit X @amitshah)

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, August 30: Within hours of the Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah holding meeting with the top brass of the Delhi Police at its headquarters, a fresh order came that the forensic investigation would be mandatory in cases which potentially entail six or more years of punishment.

The Delhi Police order, however, is not aware that the lakhs of court cases are pending across the country for lack of forensic reports, which remain pending for several years.

Even in Delhi the forensic labs are overburdened and sanctioned strength of staff remain vacant.

Following Shah’s direction that the forensic investigation be mandatory in all crimes involving punishment of more than six years, Sanjay Arora, the Commissioner of Police, issued the order, mandating that the forensic vans must be summoned and asked ro collect evidences in all such crime cases.

Priyanka Agarwal, director of an accredited private forensic lab, recently wrote that more than 50 per cent of cases reported to the labs each year for forensic investigation, remain pending and unresolved.

Quoting form an RTI reply, she wrote in The Pioneer that the pendency of the cases on account of the delay by the forensic labs was reported from the six Central Forensic Science Laboratories located at Chandigarh, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Guwahati and Bhopal.

She further argued that while 4.7 crore cases are pending, four crores are pending at the district court level.

“… around 20,000 forensic tests were pending at the Forensic Science Laboratory in Rohini as of June 2022. In many of the cases pending, the time factor is shocking, with pendency stretching to as many as three years for chemical and toxicology results. For evidence of biological or chemical nature, chances of contamination and scope of manipulation is directly proportional to the time taken to analyze them, thereby increasing the margin of error in a scientific procedure and therefore the final case itself,” she added.

The vacancies in the forensic labs in Delhi alone are to the tune of 40 per cent, The Times of India wrote in a recent editorial, which added that there were 60 per cent vacant posts in such laboratories in Karnataka and Haryana. The daily further had argued that vacancies in forensic labs in Odisha were 70 per cent.

Indeed, over 90 per cent of the serious crimes, including rapes, are pending in various courts in the country.

The latest National Crime Research Bureau for 2021 stated that Delhi reported 1226 rape cases last year. The fact that Parliament enacted stringent laws to deter heinous crimes but there is no improvement in the sense of security for women may be on account of the criminals not yet facing the full might of the law due to jaded criminal investigation infrastructure.

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