Assam's forensic lab a dud
Key chemicals missing, costly equipments lying useless, cases piling up fast, conviction rate of crimils a shame
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, April 25: For those whose knowledge of crime labs comes from television shows and movies, a forensic laboratory is a place of cutting edge gizmos and scientific gadgets, where infallible scientists work to find the evidence that will lay bare the truth.
But the scene at the Forensic Science Laboratory, Assam, located at Kahilipara in Guwahati — is of a world far removed from such idealized images. The lab resembles a government office in shambles, at utter mercy of the powers-be in Dispur.
Investigations of sizeable number of cases involving crimil and terror networks have almost come to a standstill due to crippling lack of chemicals and other equipments.
In at least five divisions - Serology, Drugs and rcotics, Photography, Chemistry, Toxicology – scientists have been uble to conduct any tests due to shortage of chemicals.
“There have been virtually no tests in these divisions in the last one year or so. The Digital Forensic Unit, which deals in cyber crime cases, has been shut since the last three years due to lack of manpower,” said an official source who did not wished to be med for obvious reasons.
Even D tests are not being conducted of late due to lack of a chemical called POP4. Seven ml of the chemical costs Rs 79,000.
The lab is facing a shortage of at least 15 vital chemicals used for various tests.
“The shortage of chemicals is nothing new. We often have to face it due to lack of funds. The government has done little to raise the bar of the lab,” the source rued.
As a result, many expensive machines are lying around unused, likely to turn into useless scrap before long.
Even the generator of the lab has been not used since the last eight months as there are no funds to buy diesel. “The vehicles meant for the officials of the lab are also gathering dust because no separate fund is sanctioned for buying fuel,” a source said.
No wonder, with the personnel uble to conduct tests, cases are piling up fast at the laboratory. The number of pending cases till March this year was 1,052, which involved 16,419 exhibits.
Police officials admit that investigations in hundreds of cases are being held up due to delay in the forensic test reports.
For a State which holds the dubious distinction of a poor conviction rate of crimils, forensic test reports hold the key in establishing an investigation in courts.
The laboratory’s official website was last updated nearly a decade back.
The laboratory was established at Shillong (the then capital of United Assam) in the year 1967 with the appointment of Dr JK Borooah as Director. It was shifted to Guwahati in the year 1969 and subsequently shifted to its permanent setup at Kahilipara, Guwahati in 1978.
* No tests in five lab divisions due to shortage of some 15 chemicals
* The number of pending cases till March this year was 1,052, which involves 16,419 exhibits