High costs involved in DNA profiling of unidentified bodies recovered from along the railway tracks have led to a pile-up of cadavers in mortuaries at government hospitals coming under the Railway Police in Salem Sub-Division.
This sub-division alone has to deal with about 400 unidentified bodies in a year. Coimbatore accounts for 30 corpses in a year.
Under such circumstances, the Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Chennai wants the Railway police to go in for DNA profiling of bodies only in the event of the case being major, unusual or sensational. Railway police find this to be a tricky affair. In the absence of DNA profiling, when there is a claim (that the deceased was a legal heir of someone or someone was a legal heir of the deceased and also in the event of a case of death on or alongside the track being re-opened or challenged in court), Railway Police find it difficult to prove the identity and relationship of the victim with the claimant.
In most train accidents, the face of the victim is damaged beyond recognition. Legal procedures do not allow for recognition of a body by the complexion, height or dress worn by the accident victim at the time of death. The courts strictly go by DNA profiling.
The Railway Police have another problem to grapple with. Until, someone comes up with a claim of relationship with a person found dead along a railway track, the Railway Police are not be able to know whether the case can be classified as major, unusual or sensational.
In the absence of DNA profiling, the police will be in a fix in the court of law, say officers in the Railway Police who have been dealing with death on the railway tracks.
Officers dealing with such issues say that the only solution to the problem would be to allocate adequate funds to the Forensic Sciences Laboratory to perform a profile for all requests.
Forensic science experts admitted to The Hindu that the DNA kits were very expensive. They also admit that DNA profiling is the surest way to face legal implications that might arise in future. In Coimbatore region, there were 98 deaths on the tracks (including suicides and accidents) in 2011 and the number went up to 111 in 2012 and till July this year, it was 66.