Delhi Police to get more forensic teeth with 11 mobile vans

Delhi`s sole forensic lab is bogged down with over 10,000 cases to solve and it gets around 500 new samples every month.

IANS| Updated: Nov 15, 2013, 16:14 PM IST

New Delhi: Delhi`s sole forensic lab is bogged down with over 10,000 cases to solve and it gets around 500 new samples every month. Now the capital is set to get three more forensic labs as well as 11 mobile FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) vans to aid quick solving of cases.

"To help Delhi Police in solving crime cases promptly, we have in principle okayed three FSL labs that will come up near the district courts. This will greatly help to reduce the burden on the FSL in Rohini to deal with forensic cases," a Delhi government official said.

"We have approached the DDA (Delhi Development Authority) for land for setting up these labs," the offiical, who did not wish to be identified, said.

The official said the decision on the 11 mobile FSL - a proposal given by Delhi Police for each police district so as to make evidence gathering a prompt and accurate affair - was also cleared last month.

"The decision on mobile vans was taken a month ago at a high-level meeting of officials of the Delhi government`s home department, the FSL and Delhi Police. The proposal has been sent to the union home ministry and we are confident of a positive response," another Delhi government official said.

The urgency to get more forensic labs and mobile vans stems from the fact that biological evidence does not have more than six months` shelf life in preserved form.

After six months the samples, including of blood, DNA and viscera, begin to decay - making identification impossible, said a FSL scientist unwilling to be identified.

"Looking at the load on the FSL labs, in most cases the forensic samples become unusable," he said. The capital`s sole FSL is run by the Delhi government. It has cases that have been pending for more than two years.

Newer samples keep arriving every day - of body fluids, DNA samples, finger prints, semen and vaginal swabs, spent bullets, gun powder traces and guns - to identify and match.

"The mobile vans with trained forensic technicians will know exactly how to pick up samples, and preserve them. Many times we lose crucial evidence because our policemen are not so skilled as forensic experts to properly gather samples," a senior police officer told IANS, unwilling to be identified.

A Delhi government official said these labs would be attached to the district courts at Saket in south Delhi, Karkardooma in east Delhi and the third one would be at a centrally located place.

The mobile forensic labs will each have teams comprising four or five trained personnel. The vans will be stationed at the police district headquarters and be functional round-the-clock to be rushed to the scene of crime.
Police accept that lack of prompt forensic reports has held up the solving of several important cases. It is a year since the murder of liquor baron Ponty Chadha, but police are yet to get all the ballistic reports.

In the 2008 murder of teenager Aarushi Talwar and domestic help Hemraj, forensic experts had a tough time collecting exact evidence as initially the crime scene was trampled upon by many people, including mediapersons, neighbours and relatives, said a FSL scientist. The trial court`s judgement is expected Nov 25.

However, the Dec 16, 2012, gang rape was solved in record time and the trial court verdict came in nine months. "In the Dec 16 gang-rape, the FSL report was obtained within a fortnight as the inquiry was pursued at the level of the Jt.CP (joint commissioner of police) and DCP (deputy commissioner of police)," an officer said.

The officer added that forensic evidence helped the police in strongly presenting their case against the accused charged with the brutal gang-rape of the trainee physiotherapist - a point that also earned them a pat from the fast track court.

It was during the gang rape trial that the court advised both the police and the Delhi government authorities to hasten the process of setting up more FSL units. The officer said there have been cases where the courts have had to intervene to obtain the reports.

"In most cases we have to make several requests to the FSL before we get the report," the officer said. Last June, Delhi Police had written to Delhi`s principal secretary (home) asking him to direct the FSL Rohini to send the reports of important cases within 10 days.

The CFSL in Delhi, located in Lodhi Colony, deals with Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cases. Delhi Police pass on some of their cases to the CFSL.