This article on ‘Laws relating to Forensic Science in India‘ was written by Pooja Yadav, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
A nation or community’s fiats to regulate its population through the imposition of punishments are what constitutes law in that nation or community. The Indian Legal System provides a common criminal law for all of its residents, governed by the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 which governs the procedural aspects of the criminal law, and the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which governs the substantive aspects.
Although we have a clear process for punishing offenders and defining the country’s sins, we lack any methods for identifying the actual offenders. The Indian legal system is founded on the tenet that 99 criminal people should be freed but 1 innocent person should not be. Since the criminals by themselves won’t approach the police and the Indian police or justice system has no other options aside from direct evidence against the culprit, using this idea occasionally causes unfairness to many victims.
Therefore, when a situation emerges without clear evidence the results can be predicted. In general, forensic law relates to the use of forensic scientists in the analysis of such physical traces of a human being that may be used to identify a criminal.
The Latin term forensic, which means “before the forum,” is where the word “forensics” comes from. Thus, the topic of how they used forensic science in courtrooms and how we now use it arises.
Science is used mostly in the investigation of criminal situations by forensic science. It is governed by the country’s legal system’s justifiability of evidence and criminal procedure principles. As a result of the lack of standardized forensic procedures in the ancient legal system, many of the offenders went unpunished. Gradually, the importance of forensic science in the field of law grew.
Through a variety of means, forensic science supports the legal system :
Ballistics and toxicity: This technique is used to find arsenic in the bodies. James marsh was the first to incorporate this new science into the practice of forensics. He was also frequently called upon as a chemical expert to deliver his case studies involving the use of arsenic. In addition, he produced arsine gas by forming a solution containing sulfuric acid, arsenic, and zinc free of arsenic. Even one-fourth of a milligram of arsenic present in the corpse was detectable by this gas.
Anthropometry: Anthropometry, the discipline of taking precise measures of the human body, was created in the 19th century to address the limitations of identifying criminals by their names and pictures. Anthropomorphic dimensions take into account the size, structure, and makeup of people.
Fingerprints: Because each human finger’s pinnacle configuration is distinct and does not change with growing or ageing, fingerprints are an ideal method of identifying a person. One of the first people to utilize fingerprints to identify criminals was Sir William Herschel. In order to combat the widespread use of falsified signatures in 1858, he started using thumbprints on documents while he was employed by the Indian Civil Service.
Uhlenhuth test: Since 1901, American Forensics has employed the Uhlenhuth test as a forensic procedure to identify any antibodies still present in a subject’s blood cells. It can also be used to establish a child’s paternity and the type of blood they possess. This is also highly important for establishing who the perpetrator is when an unfamiliar blood stain is discovered on a victim.
DNA: Basically, DNA is utilized to research a person’s genes. Similar to fingerprints each person has a distinct DNA profile that differs from identical twins’ genes because they have the same genetic code. In 1985, British scientist Alec Jeffrey applied it for the first time to use homicide cases from the past to solve a double homicide.
Forensic Odontology: When a body is left in an unidentified state, forensic odontology can aid identify the victims. Examining their teeth, jaw alignment and general oral structure can help with this. Medical legal Death Investigation and Forensic Pathology. By examining the corpse, forensic pathology aids in determining the cause of death. In forensic medicine, medical samples are gathered and examined in order to make assumptions about the truth that can be used as evidence in court.
Utilization of Forensic science in India
Science and technology have long been used to discover things and conduct investigations; evidence of this may be seen in Kautilya’s Arthashastra. Before it was scientifically proven that identifying intruders by fingerprints was foolproof, the Indians understood for a very long time that hand-prints were peculiar ad was used as signatures by illiterate people in India. Some people thought it was a ceremony.
To examine the evidence and create a forensic report, numerous laboratories, and bureaus were established. To isolate, identify and assess diverse venoms in the human system, the Chemical Examiner’s Laboratory in Madras, India was established in 1849. In order to keep anthropometric data of criminals, the Criminal Investigation Department Anthropometric Bureau was founded in the 19th century.
In 1897 Calcutta, India hosted the world’s first-ever fingerprint bureau. Similar departments like the ones for serology, fingerprints, ballistics, and state forensic science were also established. Despite the fact that these have been formed at such a young age, there has been little advancement in our research and as a result, many offenders are found not guilty since forensic science cannot be used in courtrooms.
Forensic evidence is admissible in Indian courtrooms
The Indian Evidence Act provides a brief explanation of the admission of forensic reports in courtrooms in Sections 45 and 46. The components of Sections 45 and 46 are as follows:
- Whenever the Court deems it necessary, it will rely on knowledgeable experts with technical and practical experience related to the facts so considered in the case.
- The Court will rely on the report provided by the official or expert who has reached his conclusions using a variety of methods with good faith.
- The expert’s opinion will be used to give relevance to any evidence that the court deems irrelevant but that the expert believes to be significant.
In a few cases in India, forensics results were not only acknowledged but also used as the only basis for justice:
In the case Kishan Chand v. State of Himachal Pradesh, the accused was prosecuted for the crime of raping a child between the ages of 10 and 12 and was found guilty thanks to professional forensic reports that were verified by the facts. The RFSL of Mandi used the Benzidine test, the Gel-diffusion technique, the Acid Phosphatese test, DNA profiling, and other tests.
The defendants in Mukesh and others v. State of Delhi were also exonerated of dowry-related charges, saving them from the false accusations of the wife who claimed she had been poisoned and subjected to dowry cruelty. However, the forensic report clearly demonstrates that there was no poison in the stomach of the wife after toxicology and ballistics tests were conducted.
This demonstrates how forensic reports aid in case determination, yet there are rare instances where 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, due to public pressure and a lack of other proof, they were found guilty despite this. There are several instances where despite being required forensic findings are not provided and judgment is reached without taking the victim’s medical condition into account.
- Ritika Dey, Law of Forensic Evidence in India and Abroad: A Comparative Study, 4(2) International Journal of Law Management and Humanities (2021)
- Vaishnavi Narreddy, Laws relating to Forensic Science Admissibility in Indian Laws, Legal Desire, available at: https://legaldesire.com/laws-relating-to-forensic-science-admissibility-in-indian-laws/
- Niyati Tejani, Introduction to Forensic Science, BnW Journal, 22 September 2022, available at: https://bnwjournal.com/2022/08/22/introduction-to-forensic-science-2/