The Supreme Court has asked investigating agencies to adopt scientific methods in crime detection to save the judicial system from low conviction rates.
“The criminal judicial system in this country is at a crossroads,” a Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri said. “Reliable, trustworthy, credible witnesses to the crime seldom come forward to depose before the court and even hardened criminals get away from the clutches of the law. Even reliable witnesses for the prosecution turn hostile due to intimidation, fear and a host of other reasons. Investigating agency has, therefore, to look for other ways and means to improve the quality of investigation, which can only be through the collection of scientific evidence.”‘Strengthen forensic science’
Writing the judgment, Justice Radhakrishnan said there was a need to strengthen forensic science for crime detection. The judiciary needed to be equipped to understand and deal with such scientific materials. “People think that practices and principles that served in the past must give way to innovative and creative methods, if we want to save our criminal justice system. Emergence of new types of crimes and their level of sophistication have made traditional methods and tools outdated,” he said.
The Bench gave this ruling while modifying the death sentence awarded to Dharam Deo Yadav, who murdered Diana Clare Routley, a 22-year-old girl from New Zealand who visited Varanasi in 1997. The trial court had awarded death sentence and it was confirmed by the Allahabad High Court.
The Bench said: “We have no eyewitness version in the instant case and the entire case rests upon circumstantial evidence. Due to lack of any evidence with regard to the manner in which the crime was committed, the case will not fall under the rarest of rare category.
“So far as this case is concerned, the DNA sample from the skeleton matched with the blood sample of the father of the deceased and all the sampling and testing was done by experts whose scientific knowledge and experience have not been doubted in these proceedings. The prosecution has, therefore, succeeded in showing that the skeleton recovered from the house of the accused was that of Diana, daughter of Allen Jack Routley and it was none other than the accused who had strangulated Diana to death and buried the dead body in his house.”
Consequently, the Bench said that it was commuting the death sentence to life and awarding 20 years of rigorous imprisonment, over and above the period already served by the accused, without any remission. “This in our view will meet the ends of justice,” the Bench added.