India way behind in using this technique which can nail criminals accurately and swiftly

Violent crimes are on the rise. But the country, strangely enough, is way behind many developed nations in using DNA fingerprinting or profiling, the most effective forensic scientific tool in quickly bringing to book the culprits involved in such crimes.

Is it because of bureaucratic apathy or absence of understanding at the highest levels of the deterrent effect of successful forensic investigation? Perhaps, it is both. But the fact of the matter is India has only 15 DNA profiling laboratories for a population of 1.20 billion, where as five-years ago, the US had more than 120 and South Africa had more than 20 such facilities. Their number might have gone up substantially over the years.

Experts are of the view that using forensic science in dealing with violent crimes would not just increase conviction rates substantially but quicken the entire process of justice delivery system. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the total violent crimes in 2010 including murders, rapes and kidnaps were 2,41,986, of which, only 27.7 per cent guilty were convicted.

With DNA profiling proving to be scientifically beyond any doubt when compared to other forensic tools like ballistic, chemical analysis and toxicology, it is only a question of scaling up applicability of this technique.

The requirement for DNA analysis is upwards of one lakh cases of violent crimes a year with at least 1,000 examiners, but the acute shortage could be gauged from the fact that there are only 25-30 examiners, each of them handling around 100 cases annually.

Keeping this in view, the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Biotechnology mooted the setting up of a DNA Training Academy.

The proposed Academy was envisaged to train M.Sc students in DNA profiling and turnout around 100 examiners each year.

However, the proposal got entangled in bureaucratic delays with authorities remaining undecided on whether the cadre should be placed under MHA or Ministry of Science & Technology. CDFD Director, J. Gowrishankar said that he strongly believed that the entire forensic science activity should be under the control of a professional up to the level of secretary to the Government. He said that in the United States, the National Academy of Science had suggested that forensic science must not be part of law enforcement agency.

If forensic science was separated from law and order, the entire cadre could be created by Central Government.

With DNA profiling costing around Rs.20,000 for each case, it would be in the region of Rs. 200 crore for handling one lakh cases a year.

However, the costs would come down if volumes go up, he added.