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Defunct forensic lab: High Court takes cognizance

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  17 May 2016 12:00 AM GMT

Notices issued to State authorities

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, May 15: The Gauhati High Court has taken suo moto cognizance of an exclusive story in The Sentinel exposing how investigations at the Forensic Science Laboratory, Assam, have been stalled due to critical shortage of chemicals and equipment. A division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Singh and Justice Suman Shyam has now issued notices to the State authorities.

In its April 26 issue, this newspaper had carried a detailed story on the state of affairs at the forensic laboratory and how investigations into several police cases have been hit due to lack of forensic test report.

In at least five divisions of the forensic laboratory - 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.

D tests, considered almost indispensable in modern forensic investigations, are not being conducted in the forensic lab due to lack of a key chemical called POP4. Overall, the laboratory is now facing shortage of at least 15 vital chemicals used for various tests.

As a result, many expensive machines are also lying about unused, virtually turning into scrap.

The Digital Forensic Unit, which deals in cyber crime cases, has been shut since the last three years due to lack of manpower.

Even the generator of the lab has not been used since the last eight months as there are no funds to buy diesel.

With the personnel uble to conduct tests, cases are piling up 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 forensic test reports.

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. The laboratory was shifted to Guwahati in the year 1969 and subsequently got its permanent setup at Kahilipara in the city in 1978.

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