Forensic Scientists Quit over 'Neglect'
Scientists working in the forensic labs under the Kerala Police have left the department en masse in the past three years owing to the neglect from the department and the government’s reluctance to heed to their repeated requests for solving the anomalies in the pay revision.
Even as courts are giving more importance to scientific evidence in arriving at conclusions in crime cases, the department’s apathy continues to frustrate the scientists and force them to quit the job in search of greener pastures.
In the past three years, around 32 scientists have left the department. There are cases in which scientists quit their job after getting trained, serving for five years and even getting promoted as Assistant Director, it has been pointed out.
Speaking to ‘Express’ on condition of anonymity, a middle-level officer sarcastically said that there are only two assistant cadres in the Forensic Department. “One is office assistant, while the other is scientific assistant. Even in the police force, the lower cadre starts with the post of Civil Police Officer, giving the post a certain element of dignity,” he said. In Central Government services, similar posts are designated as Scientist or Scientific Officer, he said.
The eligibility for the post of Scientific Assistant is MSc and it is a Gazetted one. But the pay-scale is less compared to that of a Circle Inspector of police. Up to the 7th Pay Commission, the Scientific Assistant’s post had a higher pay-scale compared to the Circle Inspector.
While the Circle Inspectors are bracketed in the pay-band starting with Rs 20,740, the Scientific Assistant is given the pay-scale of Rs 19,240-32,200. The difference came into being after the CI post got two scale lift in the last pay revision.
While the Assistant Director’s post is given a pay-scale of Rs 21,240-37,040, slightly above the pay-scale of Circle Inspector, in the Central service it is equivalent to that of DySPs. Here, even the Director of Forensic Lab is getting only a pay-scale which is equal to the Superintendent of Police while in the Central service, the Director’s scale is equal to that of the DIG of Police.
Out of the sanctioned strength of 61, there are only 41 posts of Scientists. As a result of this, there has been a pendency of over 3000 cases. Referring to the neglect meted out to the them, one of the Scientists, on condition of anonymity, said that over 80 pieces of evidence were collected and analysed in the forensic lab in the sensational T P Chandrasekharan murder case which had become crucial in getting the accused convicted. However, the DGP had honoured only the police officials involved in the investigation and none of the forensic scientists who gathered the crucial scientific evidence got any invite or a word of appreciation, he said. It has been pointed out that the scientists engaged in collecting the evidence in the Enrica Lexie case have also left the department for want of motivation.
K Mohanan, who retired as Joint Director from the Forensic Lab, Thiruvananthapuram, and presently acting as adviser to the Forensic Science Lab Staff Association said Departments like Finger Print Bureau, which has been entrusted with the examination of finger print alone, has given a better deal compared to the Forensic Labs. He said that it was important to provide professional environment and motivation to keep the morale of the officers high. “Now, the situation is not inspiring to the young professionals. In the absence of proper professional environment and better career prospects, they quit the job for better career options. With each such scientists deserting us, we are losing their precious experience,” he said.