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State forensic labs hobbled by shortages, fund cut

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  6 March 2017 12:00 AM GMT

Crimil investigations hurt, prosecutions delayed

BY OUR STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, March 5: Due to negligence, improper funding and mishandling by top officials during the previous Congress regime in the State, the Forensic Science Laboratory, Assam at Kahilipara is now in woeful shape lacking necessary equipment, chemicals and other materials.

The services of the Forensic Science Laboratory are sought by the Assam Police and police of other Northeastern States, apart from the tiol Investigation Agency (NIA), the Army, BSF, NF Railway, banks, medical colleges and hospitals, Customs and Central Excise, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Forest department and many other agencies.

In several cases, forensic reports are a vital piece of information and if the same is not submitted before the court on time by police, legal proceedings get delayed. Non-submission of forensic reports on time by police ultimately hampers the overall investigation process.

But owing to shortage of equipment, chemicals and other required items, the staff of the laboratory is not able to submit forensic reports on time, which subsequently delays filing of charge-sheets in court by police and investigating agencies. As per reports, there were 1,063 cases with 12,521 exhibits pending with the Forensic Science Laboratory at the end of 2016.

In the fincial years 2014-15 and 2015-16, the Forensic Science Laboratory was uble to buy necessary equipments because Dispur didn’t release the allotted funds. In 2014-25 and 2015-16, the government didn’t release Rs 1.75 crore and Rs 1.55 crore of the allocated funds respectively to the laboratory. In the fincial year 2016-17, fund allocation for purchasing D chemicals and others were cut to Rs 10.30 lakh by the State government.

The Regiol Forensic Science Laboratory, which was established in Jorhat in 2013, is also facing a situation similar to that of Forensic Science Laboratory, Assam.

Sources informed that not only these two premium forensic laboratories are lacking necessary equipment and chemicals, but several of their existing equipments are obsolete or unusable. These two laboratories are also facing critical manpower shortages.

Of the total sanctioned 159 posts in these two laboratories, 52 posts are currently lying vacant. Most of these vacant posts are of reporting officers. As many as 33 posts of reporting officers in the two laboratories are presently lying vacant. Shortage of reporting officers is one of the main reasons dogging the functioning of these two forensic labs in the State.

It may be mentioned that Forensic Science Laboratory, Assam was established in 1967 in Shillong, then capital of Assam. In 1969, it was shifted to Guwahati. Initially it was under the administrative control of Director General of Police, Assam, but in 2005, it came under direct control of the State Home department. Since then, it is known as Directorate of Forensic Science, Assam.

The Directorate is composed of 11 divisions – ballistic, biology, chemistry, drugs and rcotics, explosives, instrumentation, photography, physics, questioned documents, serology and toxicology. Further there are two sub-units – D Unit and Computer Forensics Unit.

Forensic Science is now considered a vital and integral component of the justice delivery system. It provides scientific aid to investigating agencies for successful investigation of crimes.

Despite being well aware of the importance of these two forensic laboratories in the State, the previous Congress government didn’t take any measures to make the two labs modern and well equipped. Now, it’s time for the present BJP-led government to take some concrete steps to revive these two forensic laboratories in the interest of making investigation and prosecution of crimil offences effective.

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