Law And Forensic Science

Law is a field related to social setting, based on rules to regulate people, to discriminate wrong or right, provide more secure environment to live. Legislation made to ensure there’s no one left without justice. The legal system has its proceeding to resolve the dispute and to attain the truth according to nature of case which consist of criminal offences as well as civil cases. It is just, it don’t discriminate. Law shelter victim and punish offender but not before giving chance and appropriate time to prove his innocence. There is famous saying, “innocent till proven guilty.”

              “Justice delayed is justice denied” is a legal maxim meaning, if proceeding taking too much time and not providing relief to suffering party while there’s remedy available then it’s same as no remedy.

                Forensic science is very important field in law enforcement. Its uses are not contained to criminal cases but it expands to civil cases as well. Forensic science is rapidly growing science. From convicting criminal on the basis of DNA evidence, ascertaining if the drug is illicit, collecting fingerprint on the surface to identify who is it belong to, to have expert opinion on footprint, document examination etc.

                Collection and preservation of forensic evidence at the crime scene to securely arriving to the laboratory, analysis of the same and then preparing the report for further judicial proceeding. It is very important procedure if not followed properly then evidence might get destroyed or of no use to admissible as an evidence. If at the time of collecting fingerprint it get smudged then fingerprint expert can’t analyze and explain it. Same goes for securing crime scene, so blood, fluid or any DNA evidence or weapon and fingerprint on it or footprint or any evidence. They can get ruined, compromised or contaminated. All evidences as well as crime scene should be well preserved so it can be useful for further proceeding.

                But like every science it also has its errors and it can lead to wrong conviction. And there are plenty examples of wrong conviction solely based on DNA evidence. This raise questions of its validity and reliability as an evidence. And as for as expert opinion is concerned there’s always a chance of human error and their opinion can also be biased so it led to judiciary take their hand back to fully rely on it.

                 Each forensic discipline has scientific methodology, some are well developed to accurately analyze and provide findings. For example latent fingerprint evidence analysis is more accurate than tool mark or bite mark. Most reliable and valid evidence in forensic method is nuclear DNA based on scientific methodology.

                 There is need of lot of research in forensic discipline to strengthen forensic as a science. The lacks of scientific method gives accuse a chance to mold case towards in his/her favor. To protect innocent from wrongly convicted, sometimes accused couldn’t held reliable for their evil doings.   

                   Now a day’s lawyer, judges and law enforcement have better understanding and more knowledge regarding forensic science evidences.

Case Studies:

                   Santosh kumar Singh v. State through CBI

Bench: Harijit Singh Bedi, Chandramauli Kr. Prasad

Accused was convicted of rape and murder. Trial court rejected the evidence and acquitted him but high court by observing that though there appeared to be no physical evidence of rape on the body but the DNA test conducted on the vaginal swabs and slides and underwear of the deceased and the blood sample of the appellant, it was clear that rape had been committed, and that too by him. The high court held that it would be dangerous doctrine for court to discard the evidence of an expert witness by referring to certain text and books without putting those texts to the expert and taking his opinion thereon. High court awarded him death sentence. Supreme Court commuted from death to life imprisonment under section 302 of Indian Penal Code. Supreme Court accepted DNA report as being scientifically accurate and an exact science. DNA finger printing test conclusively establishes the guilt of the accused. The court said that a judge cannot substitute his own opinion for the opinion of an expert, especially in a science such as DNA profiling. Two scientists had opined that the DNA from the semen stains on the underwear of the deceased and from the swabs and slides were “from a single source and that source was the appellant.”  

         Murari Lal s/o Ram Singh vs. State of Madhya Pradesh

Bench: Ranjit Singh Sarkaria, O. Chinnappa Reddy, JJ

The appellant was charged with the offence of committing murder evidence was written note found by the side of deceased and recovery of dead man watch.

                      An expert is no accomplice. There is no justification for condemning the opinion – evidence of an expert to the same class of evidence as that of an accomplice and insist upon corroboration. The view occasionally expressed that it would be hazardous to base a conviction solely on the opinion of an expert – handwriting expert or any other kind of expert without substantial corroboration is not, because experts in general, are unreliable witnesses, but because all human judgment is fallible. The more developed and the more perfect a science, the less the chance of an incorrect opinion. The science of identification of handwriting unlike the science of identification of fingerprints which has attained near perfection is not quite perfect and the risk is, therefore, higher. But that is a far cry from doubting the opinion of a handwriting expert as an invariable rule and insisting upon substantial corroboration in every case, howsoever the opinion may be backed by the soundest of reasons. An expert opinion has to be tested by the acceptability of the reasons given by him. An expert deposes and not decides. The court below compared the disputed handwriting with the admitted writing of the appellant and found, in conjunction with the opinion of the expert, that the author was the same person. Written note with dead man’s watch was sufficient to held him guilty.  

 Hari Om @ Hero vs. State of U.P.

Bench: Uday Umesh Lalit, Hemant Gupta, S. Ravindra Bhat

     Sanjay @ Sonu and Saurabh @ Sanju are convicted on the basis of fingerprint.

     If the fingerprints were picked from the glasses there is nothing to indicate what method was applied to lift the fingerprint. From the glasses allegedly used by the accused when they were offered water. Photographs were sent to the office of the Director, Fingerprint Bureau, Lucknow and nothing more. It does not show the procedure adopted for taking such photographs, and whether such method as a trusted and tested one. The concerned person was not examined, who could have thrown light on these issues. The record also does not show whether these glasses by themselves were made available for appropriate analysis. There is, thus, no clarity in the process adopted by investigating machinery. The only material against accused Sanjay @ Sonu and Saurabh @ Sanju was the fact that their sample fingerprints tallied with these lifted from the house of the deceased. In the absence of any substantive evidence, this fact alone would be insufficient to sustain their conviction and sentence. They be set at liberty.

Pritam Singh and Another vs. State of Punjab

This was the case of murder, where death sentence awarded by trial court and confirm by High Court.

Footprints were found at the spot which correspond to a pair of shoes which fits him and which was recovered from his house along with some other articles. The impressions made thereby tallied with the mounds prepared from the footprints on the spots were even otherwise enough to establish the identity of the footprints and point to Pritam Singh Fatehpuri as one of the culprits.

                       Pritam Singh Lohara had a limp in his gait, the result of the evidence of trackers was sufficient to establish that one of the culprits made footprints which showed that his way of walking was outwards and he put his right foot more outwards than the left. The impressions which he made when he walked in the district jail with the shoes given him there on the sandy path which was specially prepared for the purpose.

                    The science of identification of footprints is no doubt a rudimentary science and not much reliance can be placed on the result of such identification. The track evidence, however, can be relied upon as a circumstance which, along with other circumstances, would point to the identity of the culprit though by itself it would not be enough to carry conviction in the minds of courts. Conviction and the sentence of death was confirmed.

References:

Forensic Science in Criminal Investigation and Trials By B. R, Sharma (Third Edition, 1990)

A Closer Look on Forensic Science by Archana Singh (First Edition, 2019)

https://indiankanoon.org/doc/52024378/

https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1283903/

https://indiankanoon.org/doc/813088/

https://indiankanoon.org/doc/760449/

Sadhana Singh Advocate

Author:

Ms. Sadhana Singh is a Central Government Counsel at High Court of Allahabad and fighting for justice since 2011, She has presented more than thousands of client in the court and still carrying out same enthusiasm to create such a place where scientific knowledge could get more recognition and provide speedy justice. She also promote Hindi language at great length and support regional language over English. She is also part of various groups whose aim is to provide justice to every needy person in their language and on time.