THE USAGE OF FORENSIC SCIENCE IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Article by Varun Vikas Srivastav and Nishtha Kheria
(Students at Amity Law School, Noida)
Justice is not something that will come to a person easily. To achieve justice a long and tedious procedure has to be followed and it may take even years for justice to be served in the existing judicial setup of India. The common citizens usually get misguided by the various Hollywood movies and series where the cases in the courts just get solved within an hour. But if we look into the real world it is quite the opposite.
In reality, justice requires a huge amount of time, money, patience, and energy. A person needs to complete a huge process which includes filing a FIR, to court proceedings, and then at the end seeking court judgments. For providing judgments the judges play a great role and are considered to be a vital part for providing justice.As time has passed there is a huge development that has taken place in the judicial system. And there is a remarkable technological advancement taken place as technology is now used to solve the crimes. Forensic science is the new helping hand[i].
Forensic Science and Law
Forensic science is referred to as the technology where the science is met with law. It plays a vital role in Criminal And Civil Matters. Forensic evidence refers to the evidence which is discovered at the crime scene. For providing a fair judgment it is necessary to preserve the evidence which is found at the place of crime. This evidence is considered to be the Secondary Evidence and the documents are the Primary Evidence. For the court to provide a fair Judgment the primary evidence is combined with the secondary evidence and then it is presented to the court.
After the crime is committed the investigation team has to collect as much evidence possible from the crime scene. They must investigate closely because very small details can change the case entirely. The forensic science has helped in solving the most heinous crimes and doing proper criminal investigations[ii].
Forensic science involves the use of technology from various fields of science such as biology, chemistry, medicine, etc. I would like to explain this with an example that in a crime scene, physics is used when the blueprinting of the blood is to be done, biology is used when the dead body has to be recognized and chemistry is used when the cause of death is to be determined or the consumption of the drugs by the person.
Forensic science was first introduced by Argentina in the field of forensic evidence in the year 1902. The first-ever fingerprint evidence was done by Sir William Herschel where it was needed for the identification of the culprit. In these modern times, the judiciary even depends on forensic evidence like the fingerprints, DNA, post mortem reports, etc. now even the most advanced methods are introduced such as the narco tests, lie detectors, etc. through these methods the real culprit can be found and be convicted properly[iii].
The legal provisions related to criminal investigations
Forensic science has helped the investigating officer to collect magnificent information related to the criminals. There have been a lot of debates that the forensic evidence has led to the defeat in the basic provision of the law. In Article 20(3) of the Indian constitution, it has been stated that if a person is accused of any criminal offense then he cannot be forced to become a witness against himself. Because the accused go through a lot of mental harassment during the investigation. The police of our country usually force the accused by brutally beating them to become a witness against themselves.
It was felt by the people that taking the fingerprints of the accused can be considered as a violation of Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution because the accused is asked to give fingerprints which are like the accused is giving evidence against themselves. But further in the case of State of Bombay vs Kathi Kalu Oghad and Anr Supreme Court had held that if a person is asked to give his blood, hair, semen, etc then this is not violating the provision of Article 20(3). This is even stated in Section 73 of the Indian Evidence Act that any person can be asked to give their fingerprints or DNA.
Another debate that took place was regarding the narco analysis that will the evidence collected through this medium be admissible in court? Because this process involves the asking of questions related to the semi-conscious person and taking their statements. It was said that there is a violation of Article 20 of the Indian constitution which declares self-incrimination as a violation of Fundamental Right.
Under Section 53 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1976, it is stated that if a person is accused of any crime then he will have to undergo a medical examination if it is thought by the medical officers that the person can provide some evidence. Then further in 2005, an amendment was made in the criminal procedure code where the medical examination which is related to the bloodstains, semen, etc will only be held in the cases of rape.
Under Section 164A of the Criminal Procedure Code, the medical examiner has to examine the victim within 24 hours of the case of rape. But the samples which are collected must not be spoiled because then it would be of no use.
The restrictions for the Applicability of the Forensic Evidence in the Judiciary system of India:
To date, we can notice that there is restrictive usage of forensic science in the Indian judiciary. They do not rely on these technologies instead they prefer non- forensic and the non-scientific shreds of evidence for providing judgments. According to a survey conducted only 5% of DNA is used in the murder cases and rape cases only 3%.
There are many reasons why the court doesn’t rely on forensic evidence. There were cases where the evidence which was collected was not properly preserved because of which it got tampered and the reports were not proper. The DNA samples had got spoiled. In some situations, there is a delay in sending the samples to the labs for testing[iv].
The main motive of such forensic evidence was for finding out the reason for the death of a person and finding evidence from the crime scene. The documents and the evidence should be handled correctly so that the court can accept it and hold it valid for the investigation of the case further.
The hurdles faced
Various problems occur, the major one is that the investigation officer is not that skilled and even doesn’t have full information and knowledge about the procedure to collect and handle forensic evidences. Till now the investigation is done in the old retro styles. If the investigation officer doesn’t have the knowledge then it can be a huge threat to the judicial system because the investigating officer is the first respondent to the crime.
The next hurdle is the autonomy of the forensic labs because they are having various departments through which it is very difficult to maintain control. For producing results that are proper and not unbiased then it necessary that these labs are free from any interference.
Various labs do not even contain the basic infrastructure, funding and even there is no proper coordination between the police officers and the forensic experts because of which proper results are not found.
Forensic science and evidence play a vital role in the judicial system. Due to the advancement in the fields of science and technology the forensic science has also advanced. But in India, these methods are given less importance. Institutional and infrastructural difficulties have become an obstacle in successfully using the forensic science to solve criminal cases in India and so India has not been able to use all the technological advancements to counter the problem of rising criminal cases in certain states of India which makes it a serious and daunting issue. Because of the incompetency of the policemen, courts think that these pieces of evidence are sometimes forged and tampered, so the non-scientific methods and the retro style of investigations are the best and the most reliable according to the Indian judges which is a major concern in Criminal Justice system of India.
[i] "Job Description for Forensic Laboratory Scientists". Crime Scene Investigator EDU. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015. [ii] Schafer, Elizabeth D. (2008). "Ancient science and forensics". In Ayn Embar-seddon; Allan D. Pass (eds.). Forensic Science. Salem Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-58765-423-7. [iii] "Forensics Timeline". Cbsnews.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2011. [iv] Kind S, Overman M (1972). Science Against Crime. New York: Doubleday. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-385-09249-0.
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