Getting timely reports from handwriting experts in criminal cases is crucial to building a strong case, police and lawyers have said.
“It is important that we get the handwriting analysis report on time as it is part of the evidence that goes in to preparing a strong case against the accused,” said joint commissioner of police, (crime), Himanshu Roy.
Reiterating this, noted criminal lawyer Majeed Memon said: “In the interest of justice, it is important that documentary evidence is not delayed. The courts must compel the state to have enough staff to get the report in a time-bound manner.”
A delayed report affects investigation as it either results in a delay in the trial, or becomes redundant to the probe. Police often seek the help of handwriting experts in suicide or forgery cases. The examiners of documents are required to identify and verify the handwriting in cases of ‘questioned’ signatures, identifying the authorship of anonymous letters, in instances where genuine documents are erroneously or fraudulently altered, threatening letters, suicide notes etc. The opinion given by the expert is then attached to the list of evidence presented before the court. However, a delayed report does not aid investigation much because by the time it reaches the police, the charge sheet has already been filed or submitted in the case.
Staff shortage, say sources in the state CID, makes it difficult to prepare reports on time. The Mumbai unit of the handwriting bureau, near the Marine Drive police station, has five experts, instead of the sanctioned strength of seven, sources claim. “There is a delay in sending the reports, as the number of cases have gone up, while we have only five analysts working,” said Jaysingh Sadashiv Landge additional chief state examiner of documents (Mumbai). A source from the bureau also said that the pressure on these analysts is very high and there is an urgent need to higher more experts.