Kejriwal's move to engage pvt forensic labs hits roadblock

Kejriwal's move to engage pvt forensic labs hits roadblock

Tender issued twice as bidders show no interest

Kejriwal's move to engage pvt forensic labs hits roadblock

The Delhi government’s plan to outsource DNA tests and voice samples to private forensic science labs has failed to take off due to lack of interest shown by any bidder in its tender, which was issued twice, sources said.

“The plan is still to start,” said a functionary in the office of Chief Secretary K K Sharma, expressing helplessness over the delay.

The Arvind Kejriwal government plans to give the task of conducting DNA tests and checking authenticity of voice samples to private labs as its own forensic lab is overworked and nearly 12,000 samples are awaiting tests for years.

Private labs are capable of giving DNA test reports in 24-48 hours while a government lab may take a few months or a year due to the backlog of work, said an official.

Apart from involving private labs to tackle the huge backlog, the government had also drawn up plans for hiring 150 contract workers for the government facility in Rohini for speedy disposal of forensic tests, sources said.

With the attempt to seek private help for forensic tests running into a hurdle, thousands of litigants are likely to suffer longer for justice as the samples sent to government FSL are critical for conclusion of trials.

The delay in getting FSL reports adds to the administrative costs involved in dispensation of justice. According to sources, almost one-fourth of the samples lying at the Rohini lab are related to DNA tests that help in confirming the identity of disfigured bodies, linking a suspect to a rape or a murder.

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

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.

“Many a times the tests are not conducted for months and the quality of samples deteriorates over the period,” said  an official.

Sources said in some cases the delay in conducting the lab tests is intentional as some corrupt officials try to manipulate the report to favour a “wealthy” suspect. “You can get any tailor-made report from FSL,” alleged a criminal lawyer, who did not wish to be named.

The discussion in the AAP government over involvement of private agencies in forensic tests was taken soon after the JNU sedition case.   After fake videos of the alleged sedition incident on the campus were uploaded on the social media, the AAP government arranged the test of video samples to a Hyderabad-based forensic lab to check their authenticity.

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.

Police and the prosecution branch are heavily dependent on experts from the Delhi government forensic lab to collect samples and provide technical advice to courts hearing criminal cases.

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