The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to give details of court visits of forensic laboratory officials to depose in cases during 2016.
The direction came from the high court bench of justice Rajesh Bindal recently after the counsel for Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Chandigarh, pointed out that reports of forensic examination given by the CFSL were per se admissible as evidence. However, still invariably in all cases, reporting officers were summoned in the court.
“It takes lot of time and as a result, testing of samples is delayed. In many cases, even after the reporting officer attends the court, the cross-examination is nil,” CFSL counsel Arun Gosain told the court seeking its intervention. “Some application of mind is required before the reporting officer is summoned in court,” he added. The court was also told that there was heavy workload at CFSL, Chandigarh, due to special references received from other states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand and even Madhya Pradesh. As there were only three officers available in the documents section, summoning of them in the court delays examination of documents, he told the court.
Taking serious view of the statements of the CFSL counsel, the HC has now asked him to furnish the information regarding the number of times reporting officers were summoned in the court for cross-examination on an average every month in 2016.
Punjab and Haryana have also been asked to give details of summoning of its officials by trial courts for deposing in cases wherein forensic reports were procured from them.
Under Section 293 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), a report of a government scientific expert may be used as evidence in any inquiry, trial or other proceeding. The court may, if it thinks fit, summon and examine any such expert with regard to the subject matter of his report.
In this suo motu petition, the HC is monitoring the functioning of forensic laboratories of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. The details are to be given by December 9.
Punjab has four such laboratories at Bathinda, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Mohali, besides the Chemical Examiner Laboratory at Kharar. Haryana has a state forensic laboratory at Karnal and two regional forensic labs at Rohtak and Gurgaon. Two more such labs are proposed to be set up at Hisar and Panchkula.