WHEN TWO new Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) units — at Kolhapur and Nanded — were recently inaugurated in the state, it was hoped they would bring down the workload from other units and speed up the process of crime investigation.
But that is unlikely to happen soon. The reason: while the two units have been authorised and made functional, no staffer has been recruited for them.
The two centres have started functioning with the help of employees of the other FSL units, who have been transferred to the new centres.
The Nanded centre was inaugurated in November last year, and the Kolhapur centre in March. Sanctioned through a Government Resolution on December 15, 2014, they were meant to reduce the workload on the six existing labs at Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Nashik and Amravati.
Before the new centres were inaugurated, the samples from these regions were sent to Pune and Aurangabad units. An official said the government set up these labs to improve the poor rate of conviction in Maharashtra. It was hoped that FSL reports — which are considered strong evidence in courts — sent to police stations before filing of the chargesheet would help them present a strong case before the court and enable a better conviction rate.
A source said that while several posts for the two laboratories have been sanctioned, no employee has yet been hired.
“Currently, half the staff from Pune FSL is working at Kolhapur , while a section of the staff from Aurangabad FSL is working at Nanded,” the source said.
An officer conceded that while posts have been sanctioned, the hiring process can be long-drawn and and it would take five-six months before additional staff is employed.
Another official, however, said the centres can still save a lot of time, which becomes vital in cases where DNA samples have to be transferred. “Earlier, if there was a crime at Nanded, experts would have to come from the Aurangabad FSL, which would take 8-10 hours. Till the time they came, local authorities would have to ensure the crime scene was not contaminated, which becomes especially problematic if the crime scene is located at a crowded place. Now, the samples can be collected and examined faster,” the official said.
A senior FSL official confirmed they have communicated to the home department that if staffers are not hired for the two centres, the time taken by the FSL per sample will remain the same. Inspite of repeated calls and text messages, K P Bakshi, Additional Chief Secretary (Home), couldn’t be reached for comment.