Updated: August 18, 2021 8:55:33 am
To ensure that DNA reports are sent promptly to investigating agencies across Maharashtra in cases of crimes against women and children, three new DNA machines to augment the existing facilities at six of the eight Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) units across the state are in the process of being procured.
The machines, purchased for Rs 3 crores each, have been procured under the Nirbhaya funds issued by the Central government to speed up the process of investigation and gathering of evidence in cases of crimes against women and children.
An official said that while currently the eight FSL centres across the state have DNA testing facilities, the three new machines will be in addition to the machines already existing at Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. Plans are underway to get a second machine added at Amravati, Nashik and Aurangabad FSL centres.
An officer said while there are over 6,000 cases of DNA tests currently pending at forensic laboratories across the state, “At times, when there are sensitive cases, we have to prioritise them over other cases.” As a result of this, some of the other cases that include those linked to sexual offences get delayed, the official added.
“With these three machines being added, all cases related to sexual offences against women and children will be taken off the general pendency pile and be tested on the newly procured machines,” the official said. He added that as a result of this, the FSL should be able to send DNA test reports in such cases to the police in just 15 days instead of months, which it currently takes.
A police officer said that generally in rape cases, the DNA test is one of the most vital pieces of evidence. “Delay in getting the DNA report at times causes delay in filing chargesheets as well. At times, we would need to keep following up with FSL to get reports on time,” the officer added.
DNA test reports are sought in any crime where there is an element of proving someone’s identity based on some DNA samples found on the scene of crime. Apart from this, DNA tests are also conducted to settle paternity disputes.
An official said that apart from augmenting machinery, efforts would be made to hire additional manpower to operate these equipments. “Currently, we get around 9,000-10,000 cases each year and one person ends up issuing nearly 20 DNA test reports per month, leading to further delays. These issues, too, should be taken care of soon,” the official added.
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