Government to fast-track setting up of model forensic science lab in Chandigarh for sexual assault cases
A Supreme Court lawyer said that overburdened and underfunded forensic labs coupled with insufficient evidence collection by investigating cops are primary reasons behind low rate of conviction.
NEW DELHI: The government has initiated the process of setting up a model forensic science laboratory In Chandigarh to expedite the forensic DNA analysis of pending sexual cases, days after amending criminal laws to make stricter laws for child rapists.
Sources in the Union Women and Child Development ministry said that Rs 100 crore is being immediately released, under the Nirbhaya Fund, to strengthen the Central Forensic Science Laboratory to develop it as a “model” forensic examination centre.
The decision to develop the Chandigarh lab especially for sexual assault cases was taken by the ministry last month but the process has been fast-tracked now.
“The laboratory, at present, prepares 2,000 reports annually but our aim is to take this number to 20,000 per year and the fund we are releasing will help it getting the required equipment and manpower at the earliest,” a senior official in the ministry said.
The government, on Sunday, had notified amended laws for sexual offences on children under 12 and 16 years of age.
Under the changed laws,, there is now a provision of death sentence for rapists of girl under12 years, while the minimum punishment in case of women has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, extended to life imprisonment.
The measures also provide for speedy investigation and trials. The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months. But there have been concerns that there is a poor rate of conviction in rape cases due to shoddy investigations, insufficient evidence and improper or delayed forensic examination.
The National Crime Bureau Records, for instance, show that in 2016 there were about 39,000 rape cases and around 36,000 cases registered under the POCSO act but the rate of conviction overall in rape cases is just one in four cases while its 28.2 per cent under the POCSO cases.
“It’s a good thing that the government wants to create a model laboratory for sexual offences but other laboratories too need to be well-equipped and private laboratories need to be recognised,” said B Suresh Shetty, one of India’s top forensic medicine experts.
Supreme Court lawyer Ravi Kant said that overburdened and underfunded forensic labs coupled with insufficient evidence collection by investigating cops are primary reasons behind low rate of conviction and delayed justice in rape cases.
|Number of rape cases in India in 2016:||38,947|
|Number of cases under POCSO act||36,022|
|Rate of conviction in rape cases||one in four cases|
|Rate of conviction in POCSO cases||28.2 per cent|