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Role of Forensic Science in Indian Criminal Justice

INTRODUCTION                                                                                                                            Forensic science is an interesting topic because whenever there is a crime which has taken place forensic science plays a great role in the investigation and helps in finding out the accused. Some years ago, the role of forensic science was very minimal but now there is a greater thrust for forensic science. In the past few decades the role of technology has been very important for the advancement of criminal justice.

WHAT IS FORENSIC SCIENCE?

           The concept of forensic science is an old concept. In olden days medical opinions were applied in law. But only after years was fingerprinting accepted as a tool for the identification of criminal suspects. Fingerprint evidence was first accepted in the Argentine court in the year 1980 and then in the English court in the year 1902.

          Forensic evidence is very useful as it provides guidance to the officers conducting the investigation. Forensic evidence is believed to be more accurate than any other type of investigation because it is done with scientific tools and there are many experts who are really good at it and they supply it to the courts which can be relied upon in solving the issues. It is capable of answering important questions and forms an integrated part of criminal justice system. [1]

        Forensic science in the current scenario is an advanced technique which is used not only in criminal cases but also in civil investigation.  Many techniques are involved in forensic science which includes fingerprint analysis, DNA analysis, ballistic or explosive culture etc. It will help in finding out the accused and in relieving the innocent.

ROLE OF FORENSIC SCIENCE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

               Forensic science is a significant aspect of criminal justice system. The forensic investigation starts with the information obtained from the crime area. The main aim of forensic science is to find out the four questioning words which are – who committed the crime, what type of crime was committed and when the crime was committed. It also talks about the area where forensic investigation finds out the modus operandi (the way of committing a crime) and last but not the least, forensic investigators also establish the motive behind the crime. So it is clearly evident that with the help of forensic science a whole solution for the crime can be obtained.

             During an investigation the evidence is collected from the crime scene or by talking to people. Each and every case has its own difficulties and challenges.[2] There are two types of evidence, namely, physical and non- physical. Forensic science identifies the culprit using physical evidence such as fingerprints, blood samples, hair samples, etc. If the evidence obtained does not match the accused with the victim or the crime then the innocence of the accused will be proved. So forensic science not only helps in finding out the accused but also to relieve the innocent. After the introduction of DNA technology it helps the officers to find the criminal from the evidence left behind in the crime scene[3]. Though we are in the introductory level of the DNA technology, there is a DNA Technology (Uses and Applicability) Bill, 2018 which has been presented in the Lok sabha. So after the bill is passed there will be greater use of it in India.

LEGAL PROVISIONS

In India, the use of forensic science in investigation has to be in accordance with the law and its limitation.

Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution provides that no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. It is based on the presumption that the accused is innocent until proved guilty and also protects the accused from torture during the investigation. Article 20(3) is available only when compulsion is used and not against voluntary statement, disclosure or production of document or other material. This right has been taken to ensure that a person is not bound to answer any question nor give any information if that has the tendency to expose the accused. It also guards against forcible testimony of any witness.

Section 73 of the Evidence Act sanctions the court to direct that the fingerprints of all the people can be taken. This § 73 of the Evidence Act does not violate the Article 20(3)[4].

There are controversies as to whether forensic evidence violates Article 20(3) or not. In the case of State of Bombay V. Kathi Kalu Oghad & Others[5], the court held that giving fingerprints, signature, blood, hair etc. did not amount to witness and it is within the meaning of the article. So the accused cannot say no (oppose) for the DNA analysis for investigation purposes.

In a 2006 judgement of Dinesh Dalmia V. State[6], the Madras High Court said that when the accused is put under Narco Analysis and Brain Mapping Test and the accused will not be able to lie. This also does not violate Article 20(3).

The Code of Criminal Procedure in the year 1976 says in § 53 that an accused person can be put to medical examination when there are grounds to believe that examination will give evidence. Now the medical examination has been enlarged in the year 2005 which includes analysis of blood drops, stains, hair samples, nails etc. by using technology. It also includes DNA test and any other tests which the doctors think are necessary for the crime.[7] However, it includes and is applicable mostly to rape cases. This section does not apply to complaint cases. When we talk about the DNA sample it is essential that it should be properly collected and preserved. Any small mistake made will make it to go for a waste.

Under the Evidence Act, the forensic science is accepted to be an opinion which has to be given by an expert who is well versed in the analysis.[8] An expert is a person who has spent more time in research in the area and one who has more experience will be treated as an expert[9] . So the opinion given by an expert will be believable evidence. But the court can disagree with the conclusion given by the expert and decide on its own as it falls under the Judge’s discretion[10]. The court can rely on other evidences and give the judgements.

USE OF FORENSIC SCIENCE IN INDIA

The most important function of forensic science is to convert the suspicion into reasonable certainty of either guilt or innocence. However the courts had to rely more on non- scientific evidences because of the technological imbalances. The Indian courts use the forensic science (DNA analysis) only in rape cases but the same importance has to be given to all the other cases also. Many rape cases have been successfully decided with the help of DNA analysis.

In India, forensic science is not being used to its full extent[11] .The judge, lawyer or the police officials do not make use of the methodologies and the technologies. For the time being the use of forensic science in criminal justice administration is low in our country compared to the other countries. There is a greater need where there should be improvement in considering forensic evidence so that the conviction rate that is clinching in nature can be improved to an extent.

There are also many other reasons as to why the court rejects the forensic evidence in criminal investigations when the physical evidence are mismanaged and there is no proper preservation, when there is no collection of clue evidence the courts rejects it, when the physical evidences are sent for late scientific analysis, etc. The other instances are when the accused is not sent for medical analysis and when a blood stained vehicle is not wrapped and it is sent for criminal examination. It is obvious when the forensic evidences are collected in this manner, and if the same is tried to be proved in a court of law, it is very obvious that the court will reject the forensic conclusion and give more importance to non-scientific evidences[12].

Sometimes scientific evidences will have some fault in it, where there will be no blood group mentioned, there will be no supportive data given by the expert and there will be delayed examinations[13]. The delayed examinations can take a case into a negative line from the merit it had. When there is a late examination, the authenticity of the evidence will be a question left unanswered.

IMPLICATIONS FACED

In India the police are unaware of the modern techniques of investigation. The police are not trained with the modern methods[14]. In one way or another, ignorance is a crime in certain cases and here the police use traditional methods and are considered to be accused. The improper knowledge of the investigating officer with regards to technology, the inadequacy of reasonable care, precaution and awareness of procedure of the first person handling the issue will lead to mishandling the crime scene and it will automatically contaminate the samples.

In India the forensic labs and its rules must be independent. The state and central forensic laboratories are under the administration of the law enforcing authorities and the state and union territory forensic science laboratories are under the police authorities. So there is no independency in the rules of the laboratories. There should be independency in the management of the labs.[15]

The forensic science labs lack manpower, infrastructure and have minimal funding, so obviously the evidence obtained from those labs will be less accurate. The lack of co-ordination and growing ego between the police and the forensic investigators are the reasons why the court is in a dilemma to accept forensic evidence as an obvious and authentic one.

The training, standard setting, research and development of the forensic science must be given more importance in the policy framework and also more developed laboratories should be established for proper DNA sampling and protection of those samples especially in sexual assault cases.

JUDICIAL INTERVENTIONS:

Here are some of the cases where the court has used forensic science and the verdict has been given.

In Krishan V. State of Haryana,[16] the trial court considering the facts of the case and most importantly taking into consideration the forensic report convicted the accused under § 376 and § 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

In a recent judgement in the case of State of Gujarat V. Mohan Hamir Gohil and others,[17] after referring to various authorities on DNA technology, different methodology used for testing and the scientific advancements made world over, it was noticed that over a period of time the courts are giving more importance to DNA test and it is very easy to identify the criminals using scientific methods and the results are way too accurate.

In Dharam Deo Yadav V. State of Uttar Pradesh,[18] the judgement deals with DNA evidence. Where there are circumstantial evidence in play, forensic science plays an important role which will assist in identifying the suspect and guilt or innocence of the accused. Proper care has to be taken by the investigating officer to preserve the evidence and to protect the evidence against any contamination or damage. All this protection of the samples can be done only by the investigating officers.

In another case Anil alias Anthony Arikswamy Joseph V. State of Maharashtra,[19] the court relied on the DNA report and gave death sentence to the accused for the murder of a minor boy aged ten years who was subject to intercourse and then strangulation until death.

In Nitish Katra murder case,[20] it was very difficult to analyse as there was only a very small portion of an un-burnt palm and all the other parts of the body were burnt. Even in this case DNA profiling helped in identifying by matching it with the parents of the deceased which helped the High Court to convict the accused.

The Bombay High Court in Anmolsingh Swarnsingh Jabbal V. the State of Maharashtra,[21] gave life imprisonment to an accused relying on the DNA evidence for a murder done for one side love. The young lady was murdered by her colleague.

There is a difference between rape and brutally raped. In a case, a four year old girl was being brutally raped who was living in a slum and DNA profiling was linked to it in order to find out the accused. The court after having examined the detailed analysis of the child’s testimony and various methodologies involved therein, approved the findings based upon the DNA findings and held the accused guilty, setting aside the order given by the trial court[22]. So forensic evidence plays an important role, even in decided cases the findings can be changed by using scientific tools.

In another case, the use of DNA helped to find the accused and he was sentenced with death sentence for kidnapping and killing after the gang rape of a ten year old school girl by an auto rickshaw driver and throwing the victim in a running canal[23].

To put it in a nutshell, in many cases the DNA test have paved way to find out the culprit in an easier way and which is also very accurate.

SUGGESTIONS

  • The courts should give more importance to scientific evidence than non-scientific ones because they are considered to be more accurate.
  • More well equipped laboratories must be established. It should have all the facilities and should have a good infrastructure.
  • Only experts should be allowed to conduct forensic tests. Proper training must be given to the investigators before they analyse the samples.
  • The reason why forensic science is still not being fully used is due to the lack of technological knowledge. Steps must be taken to balance it.
  • The forensic laboratories must be independent with limited governmental control. A separate provision must be made laying down the rights of the investigators and there must be separate guidelines.
  • Because the investigators lack knowledge about the subject, they tend to do late and delayed analysis of the samples. The samples are also not being preserved properly. So measures have to be taken to develop the labs and only then forensic science can be used to its full extent.
  • If scientific methods are being used to its full extent, the time duration of the cases can be reduced and it will reduce the multiplication of cases in the court of law.
  • The culprits will be scared to commit offence because the chances of escaping is comparatively less if scientific evidences are being used.

CONCLUDING REMARKS:

     To put it in a nutshell, the main motto of criminal justice system is to provide fair justice. Undoubtedly, forensic evidence is more authentic than non- scientific evidence. Forensic science being scientific evidence is a boon for criminal justice system. We have to overcome the existing flaws to step forward.


[1] Isha Tyagi & Nivedita Grover, Development of Forensic Science and Criminal Prosecution-India, 4 IJSRP (2014).

[2] Gowsia Farooq Khan & Sheeba Ahad, Role of Forensic Science in Criminal Investigation: Admissibility in Indian Legal System and Future Perspective, 7 IJARSE, 220 (2018).

[3] JYOTIRMOY ADHIKARY, DNA TECHNOLOGY IN ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE, (LexisNexis Butterworths 2007)

[4] GAURAV AGGARWAL, SMART STUDY SERIES: FORENSIC MEDICINE AND TOXICOLOGY, 73 (Elsevier 2009).

5 AIR 1961 SC 1808, 1962 SCR (3) 10.

6 2006 Cri. L. J 2401.

[7] ANN WOLBERT BURGESS, ALBERT R. ROBERTS & CHERYL REGEHR, VICTIMOLOGY: THEORIES AND APPLICATIONS (Jones & Bartlett 2009).

[8] Pragati Ghosh, Evidentiary Value of Expert Evidence under Indian Evidence act, 1872, SHAREYOURESSAYS (Nov. 26, 2020, 8:20 PM), https://www.shareyouressays.com/.

[9] S.C. Parakh, Expert Witness, 55 IJA 421 (2011).

[10] B.P Tiwari, Evidentiary value of expert opinion, 4 IIRRJ 23 (2012).

[11] CHARLES E. O’HARA & GREGORY L. O’HARA, FUNDAMENTALS OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION, 132, (Charles C Thomas 1994).

[12] A. Dutta, R.C Arora & P.C Sarmah, Analysis of Problems Related to Forensic Examination in Offences Against Human Body, 58 IPJ, 4, 10-11 (2011).

[13] Mahabir Singh v. State of NCT of Delhi, (2009) 111 DRJ 58 (DB): 2010 Cri LJ 961.

[14] JAMES VADACKUMCHERY, THE POLICE, THE COURT AND INJUSTICE, 97, (APH Publishing Corporation 1997).

[15] Peerzada Yasir Latif Handoo, Forensic science: A Boon to Criminal Justice, Administration with Special Reference to State of J&K, 1 JIARM 49, 53 (2013).

[16] (2014) 13 SCC 574.

[17] Criminal Confirmation Case No.1 of 2012, Cri.A.No. 133 of 2012.

[18] 2014(5) SCC 509.

[19] (2014) 4 SCC 69.

[20] ILR (2014) 1 Del 617.

[21] 2014 (2) Bom CR (Cri) 361.

[22] State v Sujeet Kumar, (2014) 4 DLT (Cri) 263.

[23] State v Manoharan, (2015) Cri. LJ 1215.


Cite this article (The Bluebook 20th ed.)-

Dhikshana Subburaj, Role of Forensic Science in Indian Criminal Justice, Ex Gratia Law Journal, (December 1, 2020), https://exgratialawjournal.in/journal/volume-1/vol1-issue3-dec2020/role-of-forensic-science-in-indian-criminal-justice-by-dhikshana-subburaj/.

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Author

Dhikshana Subburaj
Student - VIT School of Law, VIT University