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NHRC webinar highlights urgent need to bolster forensic capacity

Graphic: A set of microscopes in a lab

Forensic science provided crucial evidence in cases involving custodial deaths, encounter deaths and serious human rights violations, the NHRC said.

A webinar organised by the National Human Rights Commission and involving more than 190 participants from across India has concluded that the country has an inadequate number of forensic laboratories and the personnel to handle them.

Inaugurating the webinar, NHRC Member, Justice P. C. Pant noted that forensic evidence is crucial to the criminal justice system and the successful administration of justice.

He said the NHRC has been raising the issue of delays in results being made available by forensic labs, which results in a backlog of cases in trial courts and large numbers of pre-trial detainees languishing in prison.

NHRC Secretary General Mr. Jaideep Govind said the webinar sought to highlight for all stakeholders the important role of forensic science, especially in relation to custodial deaths cases, encounter deaths cases and investigating cases involving serious human rights violations.

Several suggestions emerge during the online discussion, including:

  • Bring in uniformity under an SOP for conducting forensic examinations
  • Fill in all the vacant posts in forensic science laboratories, and provide them with sufficient infrastructure and funds
  • Introduce forensic study and training in MBBS courses
  • Introduce forensic law studies as a separate course curriculum in integrated BSc (Forensic) LLB
  • Increase the number of forensic labs in proportion to the number of cases to avoid delay in administering justice
  • Create the post of District Medico Legal Expert
  • Introduce professionalism in the photography and videography of post-mortems
  • Make post-mortem an important activity for medical professionals, with proper orientation to doctors about medico-legal procedures
  • Mortuary set-up needs to be improved with proper equipment and environment.

In her concluding remarks, NHRC Member Mrs. Jyotika Karla said that, to ensure the safety of women, it will be necessary to strengthen the gathering of digital forensic evidence.

She said sexual assault kits need should be made available to all forensic labs to facilitate the examination of such cases.

Date: 11 August 2020

Source: National Human Rights Commission

Image credits

  1. A set of microscopes in a lab - Ouse Chea on Unsplash