Bombay HC rebukes state for not filling long-vacant forensic lab posts
The judges were irked to note that around one fourth of the sanctioned posts in regional forensic laboratories were lying vacant as of March 2016.mumbai Updated: Jan 19, 2017 00:41 IST
The Bombay high court on Wednesday criticised the state government for failing to fill vacant posts in seven regional forensic science laboratories across Maharashtra as that’s delaying forensic work and consequently criminal trials.
“The affidavits show a very sorry state of affairs,” said the division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Anuja Prabhudessai while commenting on the vacancies mentioned on two affidavits, filed by the Directorate of Forensics and the Home Department in reply to a PIL filed by Sahayak, an NGO.
The judges were irked to note that around one fourth of the sanctioned posts in regional forensic laboratories were lying vacant as of March 2016. The affidavits said 260 of the total sanctioned strength — 1,045 — were vacant. “These vacancies have a direct impact on administration of criminal justice, and the state cannot take it casually,” the court said.
The fact that a lot of posts have been filled on contractual basis annoyed the court even more. “How can such important and sensitive posts be filled on contractual basis,” the judges asked assistant public prosecutor FR Shaikh after petitioning NGO’s counsel, advocate Ashish Mehta, pointed it out.
The court has now directed a senior officer from home department to file an affidavit within a month stating date by when the vacant posts in regional forensic science laboratories would be filled, and also explain the contractual hiring angle.
The court also allowed the NGO to set a criminal law in motion by taking independent measures to pursue its complaint on inaction against alleged corrupt forensic officials. The petitioner body has cited some instances reflecting “fraudulent conduct” of some officials in the Directorate of Forensic Sciences Laboratories. For example, a portable FTIR instrument was purchased in September 2009 for Aurangabad laboratory by paying sum of Rs. 13.19 lakhs. The instrument, however, was sent to Aurangabad lab in April 2010, after 7 months of its receipt at Mumbai, and now it is said that it will require accessories worth Rs 11.20 lakh for its functioning.