FORENSICS IN THE COURTROOM via Manisha Nandan

IT IS A MISTAKE TO THEORIZE BEFORE YOU HAVE ALL EVIDENCE. IT BIASES THE JUDGMENT – Sherlock Holmes

FORENSICS IN THE COURTROOM — Manisha Nandan

[ CRIME NEVER DIES – PART 3 ]

UDGMENT – Sherlock Holmes

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When someone is charged with a crime, the prosecution and defence typically call in witnesses to testify about the guilt or innocence of the person who has been accused. One of the most important players in all this testimony often isn’t a person at all: it’s the forensic evidence.

And these evidences are obtained by scientific methods such as ballistics, blood test, and DNA test and further used in court proceeding . Forensic evidence often helps to establish the guilt or innocence of possible suspects.

So its Analysis is very important as they are used in the investigation and prosecution of civil as well as criminal matters. Moreover Forensic evidence can be used to link crimes that are thought to be related to one another. For example, DNA evidence can link one offender to several different crimes or crime scenes and this linking of crimes helps the police authorities to narrow the range of possible suspects and to establish patterns of for crimes to identify and prosecute suspect.

CASES REQUIRING FORENSIC EVIDENCE
Forensic evidence is useful in helping solve the most violent and brutal of cases, as well as completely nonviolent cases related to crimes such as fraud and hacking.

If a decomposing body is found in the woods somewhere, forensic scientists can use DNA, dental records, and other evidence to identify the person, determine the cause of death, and sometimes determine if the body contains material from another person who may have been present at the time of death.

Investigators often look for forensic evidence in cases where sexual assault is suspected. In some cases, DNA evidence can prove or disprove allegations of rape or child molestation.

Forensics are also useful in drug cases. Scientists can test unidentified substances that were found on an individual to confirm whether or not they are cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or other controlled substances. Investigators use forensic toxicology to determine whether a driver was impaired at the time they were involved in an accident.

The field of forensics isn’t only limited to evidence obtained from people’s bodies. Ballistics (otherwise known as weapons testing) can tell investigators a lot about cases where gunfire was involved. Did a bullet come from a particular gun? Where was the shooter standing? How many shots did they fire? Ballistics can help answer all of these questions. Another area of forensic evidence lies within the circuits of our phones and computers. Those who commit cyber crimes leave behind traces of their activities in databases and documents scattered throughout the digital world. Forensic computer specialists know how to sort through the information to discover the truth.

However ,The question of admissibility of evidence is whether the evidence is relevant to a fact in issue in the case. Admissibility is always decided by the judge and all relevant evidence is potentially admissible, subject to common law and statutory rules on exclusion. Relevant evidence is evidence of facts in issue and evidence of sufficient relevance to prove or disprove a fact in issue.

As per Section 45 of Indian evidence Act 1872- When the Court has to form and opinion upon a point of foreign law or of science or art, or as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions, the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in such foreign law, science or art, or in questions as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions are relevant facts. Such persons are called experts. Further as per Section 46 of Indian evidence Act 1872- it is stated that facts, not otherwise relevant, are relevant if they support or are inconsistent with the opinions of experts, when such opinions are relevant. Though there is no specific DNA legislation enacted in India, Sec.53 and Sec. 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 provides for DNA tests impliedly and they are extensively used in determining complex criminal problems.

Sec. 53 deals with examination of the accused by medical practitioner at the request of police officer if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an examination of his person will afford evidence as to the commission of the offence. Sec. 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 further provides for the examination of the arrested person by the registered medical practitioner at the request of the arrested person.

The law commission of India in its 37th report stated that to facilitate effective investigation, provision has been made authorizing an examination of arrested person by a medical practitioner, if from the nature of the alleged offence or the circumstances under which it is alleged to have been committed, there are reasonable grounds for believing that an examination of the person will afford evidence. Sec. 27(1) of Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 says when a investigating officer request the court of CJM or the court of CMM in writing for obtaining sample of hand writing, finger prints, foot prints, photographs, blood, saliva, semen, hair, voice of any accused person, reasonable suspect to be involved in the commission of an offence under this act. It shall be lawful for the court of CJM or the court of CMM to direct that such samples shall be given by the accused person to the police officer either through a medical practitioner or otherwise as the case may be.

Section 65(B) of Indian Evidence Act says that electronic records needs to be certified by a person occupying a responsible official position for being admissible as evidence in any court proceedings.
So as the capabilities of forensic science have expanded and evolved over the years, facing a number of significant challenges.

Then also a main weakness is in its susceptibility to cognitive bias. Today, despite remaining a powerful element within the justice system, and playing a key role in establishing and reconstructing events, forensic science much like any scientific domain, faces weaknesses and limitations.

These issues can arise throughout an investigation; from when the forensic evidence is first collected at the scene of the crime, until the evidence is presented at court.

So there is utmost need of forensic science because of reasons like –
The need for the application of science in criminal investigation has arisen from the following factors:
1. Social Changes:
The society is undergoing drastic social changes at a very rapid pace. India has changed from a colonial subject race to a democratic republic. Sizeable industrial complex has sprung up. The transport facilities have been revolutionized. There is a growing shift from a rural society to an urban one. These changes have made the old techniques of criminal investigation obsolete. In the British days the police was so much feared that once it had laid its hands upon an individual, he would ‘confess’ to any crime, he may not have even known. The fear is vanishing now. The use of ‘third degree’ techniques used in those days does not find favour with the new generation of police officers and judges.

2. Hiding facilities:
The quick means of transport and high density of population in cities have facilitated the commission of crimes. The criminal can hide himself in a corner of a city or move away to thousands of miles in a few hours. He, thus often escapes apprehension and prosecution.

3. Technical knowledge:
The technical knowledge of an average man has increased tremendously in recent years. The crime techniques are getting refined. The investigating officer, therefore, needs modern methods to combat the modern criminal.

4. Wide field: The field of activities of the criminal is widening at a terrific rate. Formely, the criminals were usually local, now we find that national or international criminal is a common phenomenon. Smuggling,drug trafficking ,financial frauds and forgeries offer fertile and ever expanding fields.

5. Better Evidence: The physical evidence evaluated by an expert is objective. If a fingerprint is found at the scene of crime, it can belong to only one person. If this person happens to be be the suspect, he must account for its presence at the scene. Likewise, if a bullet is recovered from a dead body, it can be attributed to only one firearm. If this firearm happens to be that of the accused , he must account account for its involvement in the crime. Such evidence is always verifiable.

In reality, those rare few cases with good forensic evidence are the ones that make it to court.—Pat Brown

@MANISHANANDAN

[ CRIME NEVER DIES – PART 3 ] IT IS A CAPITAL MISTAKE TO THEORIZE BEFORE YOU HAVE ALL EVIDENCE. IT BIASES THE JUDGMENT – Sherlock Holmes When someone is charged with a crime, the prosecution and defence typically call in witnesses to testify about the guilt or innocence of the person who has been […]

FORENSICS IN THE COURTROOM — Manisha Nandan