The role of Delhi’s Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) has come under cloud, with the high court raising questions on its functioning in case of acquittal under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offence Act (Pocso).
In a recent development, a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and P S Teji ordered the Rohini-based FSL to generate a fresh DNA report in the case where the rape accused was acquitted by trial court.
The bench is examining around 40 cases of acquittal emanating from a single Saket Pocso court and has overturned the judge’s verdict in more than eight cases till now, with this one being the latest. HC cast doubt on role of FSL when its scrutiny revealed that despite rest of the evidence pointing towards the guilt of the alleged rapist, the FSL report somehow gave him a clean chit, but was not produced before the court during appeal.
“During the course of hearing of the appeal, after examining the evidence brought on record by the prosecution, we were left with a strong feeling that there was something amiss about the report obtained from FSL with regard to the DNA profiling. Pertinently, the same was not even exhibited in the present case, though found on record. The evidence in the case points to the guilt of the accused, whereas, the unexhibited FSL report seeks to suggest that the DNA profile generated from the semen found on the underwear of the prosecutrix did not match the DNA profile generated from the blood sample of the accused,” the bench pointed out.
Sensing something amiss, the court roped in additional public prosecutor Rajat Katyal to monitor FSL’s fresh effort to draw a sample from the preserved DNA evidence stored in its malkhana. To ensure there was no mismatch in its report, the court also allowed the laboratory to again take blood samples of the victim and the accused and submit its report in a sealed cover.
HC was hearing an appeal filed by Delhi Police against acquittal of one Khursheed in the case when it raised the red flag on FSL’s role. Additional standing counsel Rajesh Mahajan then admitted that this was not the first time it had happened. He cited another instance where the initial report prepared by FSL in 2014 gave a negative report and a second sample given on directions of the trial court matched the accused to the rape offence.
The bench noted that “the above aspects raise concern” and summoned FSL director Deepa Verma and Dhruv Sharma, an assistant director, with all records of the case, demanding an explanation. But the bench was in for another surprise when the officers furnished the record after opening the seal of the envelope, which was meant only for HC’s eyes.
Terming it as no less that “tampering with the record”, HC reminded the director that FSL routinely dealt with samples produced in sealed condition so as to maintain its sanctity. “We are, therefore, surprised that the sealed envelope containing the work sheets should have been opened in such a casual manner,” it noted, retaining the record and directing court staff to re-seal it.
It then asked FSL to “to demonstrate their competence and come clean in the matter” directing it to undertake a fresh and detailed examination of the preserved sample and to generate a fresh DNA analysis report on that basis.