Govt may hire pvt experts to speed up forensic tests

Govt may hire pvt experts to speed up forensic tests

The move was triggered by the JNU sedition case

A huge backlog of work at Delhi government’s forensic lab has forced discussions in the Home Department on outsourcing to private laboratories and hiring 150 contract workers for the government facility, sources said.

The trigger for revamping the system was the recent Jawaharlal Nehru University sedition case in which videos were sent to a Hyderabad-based forensic lab to check their authenticity.
The private lab’s report revealed that three out of the seven videos sent there were doctored.

Nearly 12,000 samples are gathering dust at the Delhi government lab in Rohini and allegedly causing delays in trial courts. This is adding to the cost of operation of the government’s prosecution machinery.

Almost one-fourth of the samples lying at the lab are related to DNA tests which help in confirming the identity of disfigured bodies, linking a suspected rapist to a crime or a suspected murder to a killing.

An official said that in the initial phase, the government is considering handing over the responsibility of tests related to DNA and voice samples to private labs.

“Officials of the Forensic Science Laboratory, prosecution directorate and the Delhi Police have started discussions on exploring the feasibility of engaging private labs,” said a Delhi Home Department official.

At present, police and the prosecution wing send samples for tests at city government’s forensic lab in Rohini, CBI’s Central Forensic Science Laboratory at Lodhi Road and other central government labs in Chandigarh, Kolkata and Hyderabad.

A Home Department official said reports of some JNU case samples sent by Delhi Police to the CFSL at Lodhi Road are still awaited.

Speedy forensic reports of unidentified bodies, especially in burn cases, are needed by police before handing over bodies to family members.

At times, payment of relief by the Delhi government to the kin of victims, whose identity needs confirmation through forensic tests, gets delayed, said an official.

The pending 12,000 samples at FSL Rohini are awaiting tests related to DNA, viscera, ballistics, handwriting and forgery.

Sources said Home Department officials are of the view that private labs are in a position to give a DNA test report within 24-48 hours while a government lab may even take a few months.

This leads to delay in investigation and trial, and poor conviction rates, an official said. At present, litigants seek court’s permission and get forensic samples tested at private labs in case the government lab’s report is unfavourable.

Apart for testing samples in labs, experts from the Delhi government forensic lab also visit crime scenes to collect samples and provide technical advice to courts hearing criminal cases.
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