From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Criminal justice system
The key to an improved criminal justice system is quality forensic labs and well-trained staff, not more legislation and harsher punishments.
About forensic science
- Forensic science is the application of scientific perspectives and techniques to the legal process, including investigations and courtroom protocol.
- It is the use of scientific data and procedures specifically for the legal system.
- There is rigorous procedure involved, including controlled conditions, reliable data collection and the attempt to disprove hypotheses.
- Methodologies like the autopsy procedures, fingerprinting, testing and matching for poisons, blood spatter analysis, matching guns to bullets fired (ballistics), voice sample matches, handwriting assessments and DNA analysis are all facets of forensic science.
Inadequate state forensic facilities
- We have a woefully inadequate number of forensic science laboratories (FSL).
- There are seven central forensic laboratories in India at Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Guwahati, Bhopal and Pune.
- Six of these laboratories, barring Delhi, are under the control of the Directorate of Forensic Science Services (DFSS), and its mission is to render high quality and credible forensic services to the justice delivery system.
- A National Forensic Sciences University was established in Gandhinagar, Gujarat in 2020.
- The existing National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science in Delhi has been integrated into this new university.
- There are 32 state FSLs and about 529 mobile FSL units, of which Delhi has one state FSL and six mobile units.
- The DNA tests discovered in 1985 are used to identify individuals involved in alleged crimes.
- In 2017, The Hindu reported that while the United Kingdom completes DNA testing on over 60,000 crimes annually, India with over 13 times the population completes such tests on less than 7,500 cases.
- The average pendency at each lab is huge.
- In all states, there were over 50 per cent vacancies in personnel at their facilities.
- More investment: We certainly need more investment in the establishment of FSL laboratories, the training and appointment of personnel adept at forensic methodologies and reforms within our police to establish a trained and skilled detective cadre tasked with solving complex and heinous crimes.
- Quality training and accreditation: There is a desperate need for good quality training facilities, standards of accreditation and continuous education programmes for our forensic experts.
It is not more legislation and harsher punishments that will solve crimes, but well-trained forensic staff plying their craft in good quality laboratories that will aid our criminal justice system.