Integrating medical and paramedical knowledge for the benefit of the legal system is called “forensics.” It is a process used by the legal system to settle legal disputes. It is crucial to apply scientific methods and ideas from several scientific disciplines to legal issues. It is not a novel concept to apply scientific knowledge to identify patterns and gather evidence. This practice can be traced back to Kautilya’s Arthashastra. Before it was scientifically proven that identifying felons by biometrics was reliable, Indians believed that fingerprints were peculiar and, therefore, were used for signatures by uneducated individuals in India. A few even thought it was ceremonial conduct. Over the past few years, forensic science has made significant advancements, notably in the fields of genetic information collection, investigation, and crime scene modeling. Today, forensics has become an extensive research instrument used in civil and criminal matters that may provide important insights and play a crucial role in the justice spectrum.
FORENSICS IN INDIAN COURTROOMS:
The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 addresses “expert testimony, if significant,” under Section 45. The expert’s assessment is only admissible as evidence after being carefully examined in accordance with Articles 21 and 20(3) of the Indian Constitution and Section 161(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The parameters under which these conclusions of government science experts may be introduced as evidence are outlined in Section 293 of the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure. For genetic analysis of the guilty, Sections 53 and 53A of the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure are both of great help. Along with the aforementioned rules governing other forensic procedures, various clauses of the Identification of Prisoners Act of 1920, Section 73 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, and Section 293 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973 specifically safeguard the law regarding “biometrics.” Certain provisions explicitly mention toxicology regulations in addition to general legislation. According to Section 284 of the Indian Penal Code, “negligent activities involving a dangerous substance” are punishable. Any prescribed poison that is imported without a license is prohibited by the Sale of Poisons Act of 1919, and the number of permits that may be issued is regulated by law.
Concerning DNA testing and their acceptability to prove paternity in the aforementioned situations, the privy council has formulated the following criteria:
Blood testing cannot be routinely ordered by Indian courts .The Forensic Evidences in Criminal Trial: Need of the Hour blood test request cannot be approved whenever applications for such appeals are submitted to carry out a roving investigation.
The husband must provide a convincing prima facie argument to counteract the presumption arising under Section 112 of the Evidence Act. The blood test’s implications, particularly if it would paint the mother and child as abhorrent, must be carefully considered by the court. Nobody may be made to provide a blood sample without their will. A blood-grouping test is an effective instrument for resolving paternity issues, according to the court as well. Courts may rely on it as factual information to disprove a certain person’s paternity. But it is vital to emphasize that no one may be compelled to give a blood sample against their choice, and there are no serious repercussions for refusing.
This was India’s first forensically solved criminal case. Shushil Sharma killed his wife Naina Sahni in this instance by shooting her three times in the residence. He killed his wife because he thought she was engaged in a relationship with a colleague and fellow congressperson named Matloob Karim. After killing his wife, Sharma transported her cadaver to the Bagiya restaurant, where he and Keshav Kumar, the manager, tried to burn her in a wok. Police seized Sharma’s handgun and blood-stained clothing and took them to the forensic lab on Lodhi Road. In addition, they took samples from Sahni’s parents, Harbhajan Singh, and Jaswant Kaur, and submitted them to Hyderabad for DNA analysis. The lab result states that “blood stains on two leads collected from the head and neck of deceased Naina’s body and blood samples saved by the doctor while performing the autopsy are of the ‘B’ blood group.” The DNA study indicated that Sahni’s body was that of her, concluding that “the findings establish without any suspicion that the charred body is that of Naina Sahni, who is the biological daughter of Mr. Harbhajan Singh and Jaswant Kaur.” Mr. Shushil Sharma was eventually found guilty using forensic evidence.
This demonstrates how forensic reports aid in case determination, yet there are rare instances when courts have completely disregarded them, either under duress or due to a dearth of supporting documentation. The victim’s parents and their servant were accused of her murder in the infamous Aarushi Talwar case, also known as the Noida double murder case. They were accused of carrying out honor killings, even though forensic evidence and a drug test refuted the claim. However, owing to public pressure and a lack of other proof, they were found guilty despite this. There are several instances where forensic investigations are not provided even if they are necessary, and judgement is made without taking the victim’s medical condition into account. As a result, while considering the forensic component, Indian law is underdeveloped. Although the Indian legal system has a concept that the forensic review is the foundation of the investigation with the charge sheet created by the police, the Indian courts disregard it and are unwilling to take it as the only shred of proof because of the conventional belief that India is a corrupt nation where forensic findings can be tainted by simply giving the investigating officials a small amount of money, otherwise they consider eyewitness testimony as pure and reliable evidence in the case.
The application of these technological advances in judicial proceedings and criminal cases received more attention in the Indian case. The deployment of crime detection technology will make the system more effective, according to committees established to study structural reforms in criminal justice. The relevant laws have occasionally been updated to allow the application of forensic technology in criminal investigation and prosecution. However, it may be claimed that the existing legislation must be altered since they are flawed. Additionally, because of their conservative outlook, judges are hesitant to depend on scientific findings or other defects that exist in the evidence that is offered in court and prohibit them from relying solely on it. We must fix the problems we have now in order to advance. In addition, it is crucial to ensure that law enforcement and investigative bodies once again recognize and utilize forensics as a comprehensive asset for problem-solving. Instead of limiting it to a single traditional model, it is evident that such methodology should be used in a framework that provides insights of the input that may deliver meaning in terms of sub-source, source, operation, or offence-level suggestions for a particular set of case-specific conditions. Equal justice is the main tenet of the criminal justice system. Without a reason to suspect, the forensic evidence is more reliable than eyewitness statements.
Author(s) Name: Avni Vashistha (Symbiosis Law School, Noida)