12,072 Sexual Assault Cases Pending Due To Lack Of Forensic Labs To Examine DNA Samples
According to data by Directorate of Forensic Science Services (DFSS), as many as 12,072 forensic DNA samples, which could form crucial evidence in criminal cases of rape and murder, are lying unexamined in three of the six central forensic science laboratories (CFSLs) across the country due to a shortage of well-equipped, hi-tech DNA labs and inadequate staff strength.
Examination of forensic evidence has become a crucial element in solving heinous crimes such as sexual assault and murder. In cases where other non-scientific investigative methods fail, DNA profiling can prove to be the only ray of hope. Therefore, a delay in concluding these forensic examinations, consequently prolong the investigations, which result in delayed justice.
Out of the six central forensic science laboratories (CFSLs), only three of them – in Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Kolkata, have the facilities to test DNA samples.
A Union Ministry official told Hindustan Times, “Between them, they can only handle 600 cases a year. Also, there are about 30 forensic DNA experts in the labs.”
“DNA reports are a strong tool for the judiciary and investigating agencies to link the sequence of the crime scene, the accused and victims. Such reports can also help exonerate a suspect who has been wrongly convicted suspect,” added the official who did not wish to be named.
Earlier this month, the Union Home ministry gave the authorization for setting up of a state-of-the-art DNA laboratory in Chandigarh. The laboratory will have a capacity to test 2,000 samples per year.
“The Rs 93 crore project will be financed through the Nirbhaya Fund set up in 2016,” said Women and Child Development secretary Rakesh Srivastava.
Apart from the six CFSLs, there are as many as 31 state forensic science laboratories. Out of these, 16 of them are equipped to test DNA samples, but only the Delhi state laboratory has adequate capacity to meet the demand.