The short-staffed Maharashtra Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) at Kalina, which helps police investigations, offering techniques like DNA testing, has been flooded with Right To Information (RTI) applications over the past year, regarding the status of pending cases.
According to sources from the FSL, the laboratory, reeling under the backlog of past cases, has been receiving one RTI request every two days on an average. This has put immense pressure on an already understaffed laboratory.
RTI applicants also include policemen who have referred the case to them, questioning the delay in receiving test results. FSL officials suspect that sometimes police also ask concerned parties to file the applications, to enquire about the delay in cases.
“Over the past year, we have been receiving around 15 RTI applications per month,” said an official from the FSL, on the condition of anonymity. The official admitted that there were several cases pending with the laboratory, which had not been tested as the staff had to attend to high-priority cases.
“As a result, the concerned parties – either for the complainant’s side, or that of the accused – have started asking us about the status of the case and estimated time to get results,” the official added.
Explaining the backlog, the official said: “We were facing severe shortage of chemicals during the latter half of 2010, because of which several cases, particularly those which required DNA testing, had been delayed.”
However, another official from the FSL, on condition of anonymity, said that even though the laboratory had started sourcing the chemicals, they were still understaffed. While the chemicals would help reduce the delay, it would still not solve the problem entirely, he said. “In fact, replying to RTI applications puts more pressure on the staff,” added the official.