Ineffective forensic test helping criminals

KATHMANDU: The forensic science has very critical importance in fairness and accuracy in delivering justice. But what if the faulty forensic evidence and lack of proper lab equipment exonerate criminals from the charges?

This is what is likely in the country's crime investigation process as forensic laboratories not only lack sophisticated technologies and methods, but also are in dire need of structural changes to prevent miscarriage of justice.

"The state of crime investigation into the complex cases is at a very sorry state," admits Dr Harihar Wosti of Forensic Department at the Institute of Medicine, Maharajgunj. "The present condition of forensic laboratories is really pitiable when it comes to analysing evidences," he says. "It cannot detect even poison or drug at all if sent for lab test."

The two forensic laboratories -- National Forensic Science Laboratory and Police Forensic Laboratory -- in the country are not updated since long. "They are nearly functionless compared to the state-of-the-art technologies in the field of crime investigation elsewhere," says Wosti.

SP Janak Bahadur Singh, chief at the PFL, concedes that they are still using the lab equipment of olden times. "So much so, the chemical (toxicology) division of the lab cannot properly anylise modern drugs and poisons."

According to the police, of the evidences of 3,235 criminal cases analysed in the police lab in the last fiscal year, 2,715 cases were related to chemical, 439 to physical and 81 to fingerprint. "There's high chance of culprits going scot-free because of the lapses in the lab test," SP Singh adds.

"On the other hand, the evidences shouldn't be contaminated or decomposed while collecting from the crime sites," he says. "But, unfortunately, it's not satisfactory here due to the lack of experts. There are only a handful of expert police personnel working in this field."

Forensic science, which is an integral and significant part of the criminal justice procedure, is still lagging behind in the country, says Jiwan Prasad Rijal, special scientist at the NFSL. "In fact, real investigation has not yet been carried out in the absence of a full-fledge forensic testing mechanism," he added.

Forensic science covers modern computer/clay facial reconstruction, DNA fingerprinting, autopsy techniques, forensic anthropology, toxicology and much more. "The major drawbacks are resources and method of investigation into the criminal cases," said Rijal. "There is not a single qualified expert in forensic anthropology and cyber crime," he said.

"Criminal cases are decided without DNA tests, which may not deliver justice to the victims and book the culprits," he said.