The state Home Department is planning to use an allocation of over Rs 26 crore, received under the Nirbhaya Fund for the financial year 2019-20, to enhance DNA profiling capabilities of forensic science laboratories in the state.
As part of the same initiative, three regional forensic laboratories in Maharashtra will get dedicated DNA analysis units to investigate cases of crimes against women and children, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Wednesday.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Deshmukh said, “Forensic DNA analysis is extremely crucial to crime investigation and taking the prosecution to the logical conclusion. We have decided to use the allocation under Nirbhaya Fund framework to strengthen the forensic DNA profiling facilities available with us.”
The Nirbhaya Fund corpus of Rs 1,000 crore, to be used for projects and initiatives towards the safety and security of women, was announced in the 2013 Union Budget. The fund was started in the memory of the 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, who was gang-raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16 and 17 in 2012 inside a moving bus in Delhi by six persons, before being thrown out on the road. She had died on December 29 at a hospital in Singapore.
Various central government reports about the use of Nirbhaya Fund in the past have shown serious under-utilisation of the share allocated to the states. For some years, Maharashtra had failed to utilise any of the fund amount while in some financial years, the utilisation was barely 20 per cent. Meanwhile, the delay in getting results of forensic DNA analysis for such cases has adversely affected investigation and prosecution in many instances.
Home Department officials said that for the financial year 2019-20, Maharashtra has received Rs 26.85 crore.
Under the Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories of Maharashtra, there are eight regional laboratories and five mini laboratories. Of the eight regional laboratories, six — Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik, Amravati — have DNA testing facilities. The two comparatively new regional labs at Nanded and Kolhapur will get DNA analysis facility with allocations under the Nirbhaya Fund framework.
“For the addition of DNA analysis facilities at labs in Kolhapur and Nanded, Rs 11.26 crore have been released. The DNA analysis facilities at these centres are expected to start in the next two months.” said Deshmukh.
The Home Department said that in the regional forensic laboratories at Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune, dedicated DNA analysis facilities will be made available to probe cases of crimes against women and children, and Rs 15.59 crore will be allocated for this. “We expect that the dedicated units at Pune, Mumbai and Nagpur, for DNA analysis in crimes against women, will also become functional in the coming two months,” added Deshmukh.
The Nirbhaya Fund Framework is a non-lapsable corpus fund for projects towards safety and security of women, and it is administered by the Department of Economic Affairs of the Union Ministry of Finance. The framework has provision for an Empowered Committee (EC) of officers chaired by the secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), to appraise and recommend proposals to be funded under this framework.
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