Shimla: In a matter highlighting the issue of tampering of evidence in various criminal cases, which in turn changes the fate of the case, Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the State Government to specify the total number of pendency of samples in the State Forensic Science Laboratory (SFSL), Junga and Range Forensic Science Laboratories Dharamshala and Mandi.

The court has also directed the State to specify the average time taken for reporting of the samples received from the Investigating Agencies by these laboratories.

The State has been further directed to inform the court about the staff strength of the above-said laboratories; the number of posts lying vacant; number of machines lying out of order in the laboratories. The State has also been directed to specify how many directions issued by the High Court including the recommendations of Dr. M.S. Rao, the then Director-cum-Chief Forensic Scientist, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi, have been complied with and what steps are being taken to ensure compliance of remaining directions.

The orders have been passed by a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua, on the Civil Writ Petition filed by Neha Scott.

The petitioner has alleged that the procedure of collection and sealing of physical evidence collected at the scene of the crime is not of a high standard according to the present modern times.

The sending of evidence in cloth and wax are archaic and need to be done away with. The petitioner has further submitted that the investigation of any criminal case is the backbone of criminal justice in society, hence securing and collecting evidence needs to be properly packaged, sealed and labelled which is tamper-proof with a barcode.

The petitioner has alleged that there have been many criminal cases in which the spirit of the case was dampened due to the evidence being tampered with by the officials who were in charge of handling the case.

“As such, the protectors of law become perpetrators of law” he added.

“Instead of the archaic and outdated methods of sealing evidence by way of wax and stamp seals, the tamper-proof packaging be introduced and be made as a cardinal principle in criminal cases throughout the state,” he said.

The petitioner has further prayed that certain guidelines be issued to the police officials regarding the collection, labelling and forwarding of evidence with new methodology and the scientific method.

 The matter has been posted for March 30.

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Navneet Rathore is a Shimla based journalist having two-years of experience in the field of journalism. Navneet is a post-graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla and is specialised in crime, education, health, environment, agriculture and Horticulture beats.