Raghava M.

Expert committee has concluded that the two procedures are unscientific

BANGALORE: The Directorate of Forensic Sciences, which comes under the Union Ministry of Home, will not accept the findings of the six-member expert committee that looked into brain mapping and its variant “brain electrical oscillation signature (BEOS) profiling” on the ground that the committee has been dissolved.

The six-member technical peer review committee, headed by National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) Director D. Nagaraja, started work in May 2007. The panel had concluded that the two procedures were unscientific and had recommended against their use as evidence in court or as an investigative tool.

M.S. Rao, Director-cum-Chief Forensic Scientist of the directorate, who was also a member of the committee, said it was dissolved as it took a “long time” to compete the study.

The committee was dissolved on May 15, 2008, the same month the study was completed.

Reacting to the findings published in The Hindu on September 6, 2008, Dr. Rao said: “The committee members had failed to visit Forensic Science Laboratories in Gujarat and Mumbai to actually access the software and other factors in respect of working of the tools.”

He claimed that the techniques have shown “encouraging results” in actual cases referred by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and other investigative agencies. “Letters have been written, including by CBI, appreciating the finding arrived using the techniques.”

Dr. Rao said the directorate would consider setting up another committee if there was a need for evaluation of the tools.

‘Scientific opinion’

To this, Dr. Nagaraja said: “This is a scientific opinion given by five scientists. We have placed the facts before the Government. It’s left to the Government to decide.”

Dr. Nagaraja said the committee studied the two techniques in detail. Sufficient time was given to the Forensic Science Laboratories (FSLs), the technology developers and manufactures of the tool used at the FSLs.

On the question of delay in submitting the report, Dr. Nagaraja said the panel had to send the preliminary report to the stakeholders and include their comments in the final report.

“This took a long time. But there was no deadline for the study,” he added.

In its finding, the Nagaraja Committee said that there were several factors that came in the way of a dependable and conclusive outcome.

Brain mapping as done at the FSL Bangalore and BEOS profiling done in Gandhinagar did not have established error rates necessary to consider them as forensic tool.

However, C.R. Mukundan, the developer of BEOS profiling technique, disagreed with the findings of the Nagaraja Committee. “The results of the technique meet international standards. There is wrong diagnosis only in five out of every 100 persons subjected to the technique. The scientific basis for this technique is well established,” he claimed.

Dr. Mukundan said the committee has not been able to properly understand the BEOS profiling technique, which, he said, was in the process of being patented by him.

“I was ready to share the technical details with the committee members provided they agree not to publicise them. Neither I nor the manufacturer of the tool were given the opportunity to present before the committee the technology in detail,” he pointed out.