Going gets tough for forensic labs

Going gets tough for forensic labs

Lack of qualified staff hits DFSL hard; 856 cases pending examination

The State Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories (DFSL), one of the wings of the State Home Department, is in a shambles. Let alone providing scientific assistance to investigating agencies, it is finding surviving hard.

Like the Directorate in Bangalore, its five regional FSLs in Mangalore, Davangere, Belgaum, Gulbarga and Mysore are also in disarray.

Lack of qualified staff has hit the institution so hard that the pendency of cases is growing. In the last six months alone, as many as 856 cases have piled up with around 8,000 exhibits (articles sent for examination) pending examination. There are cases as old as two years.

Of these, a majority of the cases are pending in the Forensic Psychology division, which deals with the main stages of examination like polygraph examination, brain-mapping and earlier narco-analysis, to help identify the perpetrators of crimes. Forensic psychology involves applying psychology to the field of criminal investigation and the law.

Unstaffed since 2007

One of the shocking aspects of this division is it has remained unstaffed ever since the posts were created in 2007. Besides, it is headless.

While the seven posts of scientific officers and nine posts of scientific assistants have never been filled, the post of the assistant director, which fell vacant in February 2009 when then official Dr Malini Rao was dismissed, is yet to be filled. She was dismissed after it came to light that she had produced fabricated documents of her educational qualification during her recruitment.

Recruitments to the posts of scientific officers, scientific assistants and assistant directors had last taken place in 2004.

A M Prasad, ADGP, Crime and Technical Services, has no hesitation in accepting the reality.

He said lack of staff has adversely impacted investigations. “The concern area is the Forensic Psychology division where the pendency of cases is the highest. A guideline has been issued to all the divisions to reduce the pendency to less than a month. Ideally, the cases should be solved between seven to 15 days,” he added.

He said the department was contemplating referring some of the cases to either FSL, Hyderabad, Gujarat or Chennai.

He said applications will be invited for the posts of scientific assistants on January 16. The government has given clearance for filling 42 of the vacant 69 posts.

Getting eligible candidates is also tough. The qualification required for a scientific officer’s post is MPhil (three years research experience) or PhD; for a scientific assistant, it is PG degree (in the discipline concerned); and for an assistant director’s post, it is PhD with five years’ experience in any of the disciplines of forensic sciences.

S M Jaamdar, Principal Secretary, Home, said the rules had been amended to facilitate recruitment from open market. But it has not helped much because not many graduates in forensic psychology are available. Even premier institutes like Nimhans are offering a course in this particular subject.

“Fortunately, the Gujarat government set up the Gujarat Forensic Science University two years ago. We will have to recruit students from this university once they complete the course.”
 

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