The directions of the Karnataka High Court include filling of vacancies, procuring of equipment, and instructing timeline for submission of forensic test reports.

Karnataka High CourtPTI
news Court Saturday, August 21, 2021 - 10:00

The Karnataka High Court has issued interim directions to improve the working of Forensic Science Laboratories (FSLs) across the state. The directions include filling vacancies, procuring equipment, and instructing a timeline for test results. The directions were issued by a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Suraj Govindraj while hearing a suo moto Public Interest Litigation, according to reports. Justice Govindraj got the PIL registered noting a four-year delay in receiving FSL report in a criminal petition, reported Deccan Herald.

According to LiveLaw, the bench said that a delay in the FSL report impacts the trial as well as the victim and their families, and that all the reports should be submitted within a month of sample collection and testing. The time period of one month to submit the report was suggested by Karnataka State Legal Services Authority.

The government has been directed to appoint Scene of Crime officers (SoC) at all police stations across the state within six months, the court said. Alongside appointment of SoCs, the court also ordered the government to take ad-hoc measures within four months to appoint at least five deputy directors, six assistant directors and 20 senior scientific officers, a report in Times of India said. The government, by March 31, 2022, has to appoint 138 scientific officers and by August 31, 2021, has to recruit lab assistants and EEG technicians, the report further said.

Noting that three joint director posts are vacant, the bench directed one of the posts be filled by deputing an IPS officer within a month, while the other two (promotional posts) should be filled through ad-hoc basis within four months, reports said. The division bench ordered the state to operationalise District Scientific Aid (DSA) units — which will include a senior scientific officer, two scientific officers and one lab attender along with a mobile forensic laboratory — within six months.

Deccan Herald quoted the bench saying that new sections like advanced digital forensic, explosives, wildlife forensics and other sections should be established and made operational in the State Forensic Science Laboratory and at Regional Forensic Science Laboratories. The bench gave the government nine months to do so.

The bench, LiveLaw reported, instructed the government to operationalize additional regional forensic labs at Hubballi and Ballari consisting of all 13 sections. The next hearing is posted on October 8 wherein the court will consider the government’s progress in the matter.

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