The Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the State and policy makers to consider and make suggestions to establish a Forensic Sciences University in the State for better investigation and adjudication. (Bharat Jatav vs. State of Madhya Pradesh)
Justice Anand Pathak made the direction while dealing with a bail plea by an accused under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The Court noted that an earlier bail application of the accused was dismissed for the want of a DNA report. At the time, the Court had suggested the establishment of a State Forensic Sciences University.
Following this, a committee under the aegis of the Additional Chief Secretary was also set up, but no concrete result emerged, the Court noted.
The Court observed that the Madhya Pradesh High Court has been witnessing a long pendency of criminal cases because of the long wait for DNA and ballistic reports from the concerned authority. The Judge went on to opine that much has to be done in the field of forensic sciences and for its potential use in the adjudication of cases.
The Court also remarked that the reason for the State’s myopic view towards a Forensic Sciences University was because it equated the forensic sciences to only DNA or FSL examination.
“Forensic Sciences subjects go much beyond. It not only includes DNA sampling/FSL examination but also incorporates Ballistic Sciences, Data Retrieval Mechanism, CCTV Footage Retrieval, Cyber Crimes Investigation, Finger Prints Technology, Opinion of Handwriting Expert in Questioned Document, Scene of Crime Investigation and much beyond", the Court observed, in this regard.
Stressing on the importance of better forensic technology, Justice Pathak said,"When Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Drone Technologies are knocking at the doors, then policy makers or stakeholders cannot place “Rule of Law” or “Adjudication Process” at the mercy of archaic method of investigation and prosecution. Police investigation and prosecution in Courts cannot lie at the altar of statement of witnesses alone but it should be based upon scientific way of investigation and Police Officers, Public Prosecutors and Trial Judges ought to be well equipped with the subjects and tools of Forensic Sciences.”
The Court also discussed the three broad purposes that a Forensic Sciences University would serve.
One, it would provide for education and therefore, increase job prospects. Two, it would improve the standard of investigation as well as criminal trials. Three, it would serve as a training centre for all Police officers, Judges and Public Prosecutors, the Court said.
“Time has come when 'Rule of Law' must be treated as one of the essential components of infrastructure (like Roads, Water, Electricity and Communication), so that development of other components of infrastructure may not be sacrificed at the altar of mis-governance", the Judge added in his order.
The Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar and Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences, Delhi were touted as examples by the High Court for the State to take cues from.
While anticipating that there may be challenges in terms of finding resources, the Court also observed that this issue can be addressed through self-finance courses or other viable modes.
“Even otherwise, creation of Intellectual Wealth, Job Creations and State Security are non-negotiable attributes and any welfare State has to be committed to it", the Single Judge went on to note.
The matter is listed for further hearing on September 14.
The Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department and the Principal Secretary, Law have been requested to appear before the Court.