The often used legal maxim ‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied' has become a driving force behind former Director of A.P. Forensic Science Laboratories (APFSL) and Chairman of Truth Labs, Dr. K.P.C. Gandhi. An authority on forensic science, Dr. Gandhi is a firm believer in leveraging scientific investigative tools and techniques to crack open criminal cases and bring them to a logical denouement quickly.
The swiftness in getting results is reflected by the fact that the Truth Labs, the country's first private Forensic Science Laboratory set up in October 2, 2007 by Dr. Gandhi, has handled 5,000 disputes of various kinds. In fact, so far, the investigators of Truth Labs have testified as expert witnesses in 1,000 cases in the State and elsewhere in the country. The lab has earned quiet a reputation and has become a favourite alternative for clients who are desperate to avoid lengthy police investigations. Known for being the first to institutionalise science-based criminal investigations at the government level, Dr. Gandhi sat with M. SAI GOPAL to talk about what ails the criminal justice system in the country:
On the delay in justice system?
What does a rape victim or a wife whose husband is murdered expect from the police when they walk into the police station? They come to the police station in the hope of getting justice quickly. And what do they get in turn? Average time to solve such crimes in our country is five years. This is not acceptable at all. Even mundane cases like forgery take lot of time. There is a need to cut bureaucracy and to expedite cases. And this is what made me to start Truth Labs. For instance, we can spot a forged document within days and if lucky in some cases within hours. This brings down a lot of time and the petitioner can submit results directly to the police. Eventually, time is saved in apprehending the culprit. Justice is not delayed.
How important is scientific-based investigations?
In this age and times, the days of traditional hunch-based investigations by the police are well and truly over in our country. Major white-collar crimes like bank fraud and other economic offenses like a forged cheque occur frequently. To follow the trail of money, people and materials involved in crime, we need more than the just the personal flair of the detective. We are living in a knowledge-based based society and scientific based investigations are the only way to catch criminals, who are savvy in their own right, quickly.
Computer-based crime is on the rise, obscene emails, hacking, unauthorised remote access to computers, data theft, data leakage and defamatory emails are on the rise. These crimes need to be solved quickly and that's why I have made it a point to assure our clients that we will submit routine cases within seven days.
What is your take on existing investigative practices at government-level?
If I am able to produce a result within seven days, then desperate petitioners, who have short time, will come to Truth Labs. This is bound to put a lot of pressure on the government forensic laboratories. They have to produce good and reliable results quickly like we do. Ultimately, it boils down to the persons at government forensics laboratories. They have to raise standards. When I was at the APFSL, we were the first government laboratory to get ISO certification. This made other laboratories to follow us. Ultimately, excellence and quality of work will force existing laboratories to compete and in the process improve.
What needs to be done in terms of scientific equipment at government labs?
We need more video spectral comparators that have multiple wavelengths of lights to detect blood, stains and other kinds of forgeries on any material. There is a need for microscopes, polygraphs or lie detector machines, cyber forensics kits to track cell phones, retrieve lost data in phones, computers and audio-video authenticating machines are needed. Above all, proper training to forensic scientists employed at the government laboratories is needed.
Is there a shortage of trained forensic investigators?
There is definite lack of awareness on forensic science among general public. There is also a need to produce experts in forensic science. We have for the first time in Country, in association with University of Hyderabad; have introduced P.G. Diploma in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. This year is our fourth batch and we have enrolled 100 students. Our students are Judges, prosecutes, lawyers, police officials, professionals from banks and even IT companies. We also organise training programmes on the emerging trends in crime investigations. The aim is to equip investigators with enough forensic knowledge.