Forensic science laboratories: India
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As in 2018
Court Seeks Reply From Centre, States
The Supreme Court has sought explanation from the Centre and states on large number of vacancies in Forensic Science Laboratories (FSL) saying it is hampering speedy trial in criminal cases as scientific reports on evidence are not placed on time before trial courts.
There are 38 FSLs out of which 31 are under state governments. Six laboratories are managed by the Centre and one by CBI. The total sanctioned strength of all laboratories is 8216 but 3789 posts are lying vacant.
Slammed by the SC for not taking taking steps to fill up the vacancies, the Centre has given details of vacant posts in each FSL. While the Centre’s FSLs at Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Guwahati, Pune and Bhopal are running with a 36% shortage of manpower, vacancies in state-run FSLs constitute around 48%. The worst case is of West Bengal where 113 posts remain vacant against the sanctioned strength of 152.
In the era of hi-tech crime, the prosecutors and judiciary are increasingly relying on forensic evidence to prove the guilt of accused. A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Depak Gupta said a large number of trials were held up because of delays in Forensic Science Laboratories. “If the forensic examination can be expedited, it will expedite trials,” the bench said and asked the Centre and states to inform it about the steps taken by them to fill up the vacancies.
Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi said it was the responsibility of state government to take steps to fill up the vacancies in staterun FSLs and the Centre had a limited role. He said the Centre had written to all states to find out about filling up of vacancies in FSLs but only 19 of them had responded. The court thereafter decided to seek response from the states. The bench was hearing a PIL on condition of under-trial prisoners in 1382 jails in the country.