Forensic Science

Evidentiary Value Of Forensic Report In Indian Courts

-Manish Sati

Symbiosis Law School NOIDA

ABSTRACT

Forensic Science is application of science or scientific techniques to the law and to solve crime. Forensic Experts, Forensic Scientists, Crime Investigators and Examiners applies forensic science techniques to solve crime, examine & authenticate: evidences, suspected documents, fingerprints, digital files etc…

The results of forensic related investigations are often detailed in a forensic report.  These reports are often used for several purposes, including billing, affidavit’s, and as proof of what was found or not found. These reports are very important to a case. The expert opinions and reports to various courts in India and abroad under section 45 of Indian Evidence Act, which were highly appreciated, accepted and acknowledged for accuracy and expertise.

Forensics include- the examination of scenes of crime, recovery of evidence, examination of evidence, interpretation of findings and presentation of the conclusions or results reached for use in court / justice.

Keywords: Courts, Forensic Experts, Investigation, Development, Forensic assessment, Conviction.

 

INTRODUCTION

According to one definition, the word “forensic” means the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems. The term “forensic science” refers to a group of scientific disciplines which are concerned with the application of their particular scientific area of expertise to law enforcement, criminal, civil, legal, and judicial Matters.

Development face in forensic science follows:

  • The first Chemical Examiner’s Laboratory was, therefore, set up for this purpose at the then Madras Presidency, under the Department of Health, during 1849.
  • Later, similar laboratories were set up at Calcutta (1853), followed by one each at Agra (1864) and Bombay (1870). These laboratories were equipped to handle toxicological analysis of viscera, biological analysis of stains of blood, semen, etc. and chemical analysis of food, drugs, and various excisable materials to provide scientific support to the criminal justice delivery system within their limited means. These laboratories also provided analytical facilities to the neighbouring States and Union Territories
  • The foundation of the Department of Explosives was laid when the first chief inspector of explosives was appointed in the year 1898, with his headquarters at Nagpur. Later, five regional offices at Calcutta, Bombay, Agra, Madras and Gwalior, and three sub-offices at Shivkashi
  • Institute named as Serology Department’ was established in Calcutta in 1910
  • During the year 1915, a Footprint Section was established under the CID, Government of Bengal, which helped the police authorities to identify criminals through the examination of footprints collected from the scene of crime.
  • 1917, a Note Forgery Section was set up under the CID, Government of Bengal, to undertake the examination of forged currency notes
  • In 1930, an Arms Expert was appointed and a small ballistic laboratory was set up under the Calcutta Police to deal with the examination of firearms
  • During 1936, a Scientific Section was set up under the CID in Bengal and facilities were created for examination of bullets, cartridge cases, firearms, etc., used in committing crime
  • The first state forensic science laboratory in India was established in the year 1952 at Calcutta. This laboratory became fully operational in the year 1953
  • The first Central Finger Print Bureau (CFPB) in India was established in 1905 at Shimla.
  • CDTS, Calcutta, a premier detective training school in India, was established during 1956 (Central detective training school at Calcutta),
  • The first Central Forensic Science Laboratory was established at Calcutta during 1957. To begin with, this laboratory was organized into four basic disciplines viz. Forensic Physics, Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Biology and Forensic Ballistics.
  • The Central Detective Training School, Hyderabad was established in 1964, on the pattern of the CDTS, Calcutta, followed by another one at Chandigarh, during 1973.
  • The Indian Academy of Forensic Sciences (IAFS) was established in the year 1960.
  • The Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science (ICFS) was established in Delhi during 1971 with the limited objectives of imparting training to the in-service personnel and conducting research in Criminology and Forensic Science.

During an investigation, forensic evidence is collected at a crime scene, analyzed in a laboratory and often presented in court. Each crime scene is unique, and each case presents its own challenges. Complex cases may require the collection, examination and analysis of a large amount of evidence.

These cases may involve multiple forensic experts with backgrounds in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science and other disciplines. These forensic scientists work separately to analyze the evidence in a particular case.

Forensic science is the use of science in the service of the law. Sciences used in forensics include any discipline that can aid in the collection, preservation and analysis of evidence such as

  • Chemistry (for the identification of explosives),
  • Engineering (for examination of structural design)
  • Biology (for DNA identification or matching).

A forensic scientist is expert in any technical field and can provide an analysis of the evidence, witness testimony on examination results, technical support and even training in his or her specialized area.

Analysis of forensic evidence is used in the investigation and prosecution of civil and criminal proceedings. Often, it can help to establish the guilt or innocence of possible suspects. Forensic evidence is also used to link crimes that are thought to be related to one another.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Chadda (2013) said that Forensic evaluation is an essential part of psychiatric practice. Forensic psychiatrists play an important role in the society in assisting the judiciary in many complicated cases. In India, forensic psychiatry work is undertaken mostly by the general psychiatrists. Forensic psychiatric assessments are often associated with an element of anxiety or fear for a young psychiatrist. The object of the paper is to enable the readers to learn about forensic evaluations so that they can apply the same in real life situations. Some examples of the real‑life questions taken from the court orders to a hospital regarding psychiatric assessment of an accused person:-

Whether the accused is suffering from a mental disorder; if yes, what is the nature of mental disorder? Whether the accused is of unsound mind? Whether he can understand the proceedings of the court and stand trial? Whether the accused was mentally ill to the extent that it led to murder? And various examples of real life situations are mentioned in the paper. Assessment areas include criminal responsibility, fitness to plead, issue of guardianship, assessment of mental status, testamentary capacity and others.

Frederika (2006) said in the paper that Forensic scientists and the broader scientific community should work to improve the science of mtDNA frequency statistics to provide a sufficient scientific underpinning for mtDNA to support its admission in criminal cases. Mtdna is increasingly being offered in criminal jury trials as proof that the defendant is a possible contributor of DNA found at a crime scene but the prosecution must estimate the frequency in the general population of the DNA sequence found in the defendant. The mtDNA evidence has significant potential as a law enforcement tool, the SWGDAM database is currently too small and insufficiently representative to provide meaningful estimates of sequence frequencies and With further sampling and study of the DNA, large regional databases may prove to be an effective and feasible improvement upon the current forensic database for the calculation of meaningful frequency estimates. However, until such databases and meaningful frequency estimates exist, mtDNA evidence is not yet ready for admission in criminal cases to permit inferences that suspects left mtDNA at crime scenes.

Sarkar (2006) in this paper makes an overview of the status and practice of forensic psychiatry in India is given by the author. The old nature of mental health law, coupled with the criminal justice system’s ignorance of underlying fundamental principles, affects thousands of MDOs. There were many breaches of human rights and there is absence of access to legal help but recently National Humans Commission of India is making lots of effort so that the rights could not be violated and also with the efforts of judiciary, the author at the last concluding and identifying the core areas that were required and needed to be changed.

Singh (2012) in this paper investigation to evaluate sexual dimorphism in human sternum and make comparative analysis. This study was based on studies done by several workers who used different methodologies and techniques. For this study, 343 sternums were collected and examined from 252 male and 91 female cadavers of a north Indian population. Important differences were noticed. Limiting points gave much higher sex accuracy levels than the demarking points. The sternal area and the combined length were found the best parameters among all the criteria and methods considered. The changes in the body proportions, nutritional, environmental, climatic changes, etc., are attributable to secular changes in sterna measurements when compared. The accuracy percentage of correct sex estimation in discriminant function analyses varied from 54.2% to 84.8%, and it varied from 73.5% to 89.8% in logistic regression analyses. Thus, logistic regression method gives higher accuracy levels for sex determination, though with higher sex-biases. The differences in bone metrics as compared to radiographic studies are attributable to inherent problems with the radiographic methods and, hence, bone specimens should be preferred to radiographs for sex determination of the sternum in forensics and anthropological studies.

Merlino (2008) has examined that Forensic experts are also striving to ensure that their methods are transparent to the courts, and that judges are given the information they need to make their decisions. Efforts to organize and present information effectively have been an important consequence of the Daubert trilogy Refining and redefining the reliability of forensic science evidence is a process that proceeds much as science itself proceeds. It is an ongoing process based on effort, critical thinking, collaboration, cooperation, communication, evaluation, discovery, and self-examination.. Forensic scientists are seeking opportunities to collaborate with judges, attorneys, and scientists from other fields on research and education projects.

OBJECTIVES

  • To find out the scope and admissibility of forensic report in Indian courts & to know about the admissibility of DNA as evidence in court?
  • Whether or not there been any Development in the Field of Forensic Law? and
  • If there has been Development in the above Forensic Law, do these developments increase the rate of conviction?

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The methodology used in the present project relates to the usage of secondary data. Secondary data being used shall be in the form of databases though the World Wide Web and books written and published by author’s experts in this area of Law.

FINDINGS & CONCLUSION

DNA TESTING: DNA is an abbreviation of Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid. It is an organic substance, which is found in every living cell and gives an individual a personal genetic blue print. It can be extracted from a whole variety of different materials like: Blood, saliva, semen, hair, urine, body fluids, bones, body organs etc.

DNA was discovered in 1869 by a Swiss scientist Frederick Micscher. Sir Alec. J. Jeffereys discovered the use of DNA for forensic analysis in 1984.It was first used in England by the police in the famous Enderby case involving two girls who had been raped and murdered.

The development of forensic DNA testing has expanded the types of useful biological evidence. In addition to semen and blood, such substances as saliva, teeth, and bones can be sources of DNA. These sources are expanding still further, as researchers explore the potential of other biological substances, such as hair, skin cells, and fingerprints.

THE INDIAN SCENARIO

As per Section 45 of Indian evidence Act 1872- When the Court has to form and opinion upon a point of foreign law or of science or art, or as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions, the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in such foreign law, science or art, or in questions as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions are relevant facts. Such persons are called experts.

Further as per Section 46 of Indian evidence Act 1872- it is stated that facts, not otherwise relevant, are relevant if they support or are inconsistent with the opinions of experts, when such opinions are relevant.

Thus the elements of section 45 and section 46 are highlights that:

  • The court when necessary will place its faith on skills of persons who have technical knowledge of the facts concerned.
  • The court will rely the bona fide statement of proof given by the expert concluded on the basis of scientific techniques.
  • The evidence considered irrelevant would be given relevance in eyes of law if they are consistent with the opinion of experts.

Thus we see that expert evidence helps the courts to draw logical conclusions from the facts presented by experts, which are based on their opinions derived by their specialized skills acquired by study and experience. Hence, experts are routinely involved in the administration of justice particularly in criminal courts.

DNA TECHNOLOGY IN INDIAN LEGAL SCENARIO

Indian courts have time and again held that the evidence for proving non-access must be strong, distinct, satisfactory and conclusive. DNA tests can be strong evidence as they are correct up to 99% if positive and 100% if negative.

Indian courts have laid down certain guidelines regarding DNA tests and their admissibility to prove parentage.

  • That courts in India cannot order blood test as a matter of course;
  • Wherever applications are made for such prayers in order to have roving inquiry, the prayer for blood test cannot be entertained.
  • There must be a strong prima facie case in that the husband must establish non-access in order to dispel the presumption arising under Section 112 of the Evidence Act.
  • The court must carefully examine as to what would be the consequence of ordering the blood test; whether it will have the effect of branding a child as a bastard and the mother as an unchaste woman.
  • No one can be compelled to give sample of blood for analysis.[1]

CRIME DETECTION AND DNA TECHNOLOGY

Though there is no specific DNA legislation enacted in India, Sec.53 and Sec. 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 provides for DNA tests impliedly and they are extensively used in determining complex criminal problems.

Sec. 53 deals with examination of the accused by medical practitioner at the request of police officer if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an examination of his person will afford evidence as to the commission of the offence.

Sec. 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 further provides for the examination of the arrested person by the registered medical practitioner at the request of the arrested person. The law commission of India in its 37th report stated that to facilitate effective investigation, provision has been made authorizing an examination of arrested person by a medical practitioner, if from the nature of the alleged offence or the circumstances under which it is alleged to have been committed, there are reasonable grounds for believing that an examination of the person will afford evidence.

Sec. 27(1) of Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 says when a investigating officer request the court of CJM or the court of CMM in writing for obtaining sample of hand writing, finger prints, foot prints, photographs, blood, saliva, semen, hair, voice of any accused person, reasonable suspect to be involved in the commission of an offence under this act. It shall be lawful for the court of CJM or the court of CMM to direct that such samples shall be given by the accused person to the police officer either through a medical practitioner or otherwise as the case may be.

CONCLUSION

There is a unanimity that medical and forensic evidence plays a crucial role in helping the courts of law to arrive at logical conclusions. Therefore, the expert medical professionals should be encouraged to undertake medico legal work and simultaneously the atmosphere in courts should be congenial to the medical witness.

This attains utmost importance looking at the outcome of the case, since if good experts avoid court attendance, less objective professional will fill the gap, ultimately affecting the justice. The need to involve more and more professionals in expert testimony has been felt by different organizations.

In the light of new developments in the forensic science, the home ministry, Govt. of India constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Justice V.S Malimath to suggest reforms in the criminal justice system. This committee suggested comprehensive use of forensic science in crime investigation. According to the committee DNA experts should be included in the list of experts given in section 293(4) of Cr.P.C, 1973.

SUGGESTIONS

In, India, it is a common perception that lot of time and effort is required to record evidence and therefore by enlarge members of the medical profession does not like to involve in medico legal cases.

Some of the possible reasons put forward for this perception are:

  • Undue time consumption;
  • Repeated adjournments;
  • Lack of work culture in the courts

If this above reasons were not found then the expert will more active to record the evidence these are some the reasons why the experts are not showing real interest in the case.

Even though the sources are multiplying, the use of DNA evidence is currently limited because much of what could be tested remains unrecovered and unanalyzed. The numbers are increasing, but of all sexual assault convictions for which DNA collection is legislatively mandated, samples were obtained from less than half of the individuals, and of the cumulative number of DNA samples obtained, only 20 percent have been processed.

The reasons for the lag in evidence recovery and processing are scarcity of law enforcement resources, lab backlogs caused by insufficient funding, and time-consuming and costly testing methods. Given the deadlines imposed by the courts, it is not possible to analyze all the potential evidentiary specimens submitted.

Some aspects of the justice administration that can be improved by the following measures:

  • Discouraging routine summoning of doctors;
  • Calling expert witness at pre-scheduled time;
  • Recording expert’s testimony by alternative judicial officer in case of non-availability of the presiding officer the court that summoned him.
  • Amending provision of criminal procedures to have admissibility of the medical records;
  • Recording of experts’ testimony through video-conferencing.

 

REFERENCING / BIBLIOGRAPHY

Legalserviceindia.com,. (2015). Forensic Evidence. Retrieved 15 March 2015, from http://www.legalserviceindia.com/article/l153-Forensic-Evidence.html  

K, T., & V,. (2000). History and development of forensic science in India. Journal Of Postgraduate Medicine, 46(4), 303. Retrieved from http://www.jpgmonline.com/article.asp?issn=0022-3859;year=2000;volume=46;issue=4;spage=303;epage=8;aulast=Tewari

Ifs.org.in,. (2015). Forensic Expert Opinion, Handwriting, Document, Signature and Fingerprint. Retrieved 15 March 2015, from http://www.ifs.org.in/

Chadda R.K (2013), Forensic evaluations in psychiatry, Indian Journal of Psychiatry, pg. no 393-399

Kaestle Frederika A, Kitties Ricky A, Roth Andrea L, & Ungvarsky Edward J (2006), DATABASE LIMITATIONS ON THE EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF FORENSIC MITOCHONDRIAL DNA EVIDENCE, American criminal law review Volume 43, pg. 53-88

Merlino Mara L, Sprnger Victoria, Sahota Eric, & Haines Lori (2008), Meeting the challenges of the daubert trilogy: refining and redefining the reliability of forensic evidence, TULSA LA W REVIEW, pg.417-445

Sarkar Jaydip & Dutt A.B (2006), Forensic Psychiatry in India: time to wake up, the journal of forensic psychiatry & psychology, pg. 121-130

Singh Jagmahender &Pathak R.K (2012), Morphometric sexual dimorphism of human sternum in a north Indian autopsy sample: Sexing efficacy of different statistical techniques and a comparison with other sexing methods, Forensic Science International, pg. 174

[1] Vasu vs Santha & Gautam Kundu vs State Of West Bengal.

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