Mumbai Seven months after being criticised by the Bombay high court for not filling up the vacant posts, the state home department has started the recruitment process for seven forensic laboratories in Maharashtra. However, experts said the department had defied the HC order as the posts were being filled up on contract basis.The home department, in two recent resolutions, revealed that about 444 vacant posts were being filled up to clear the backlog of forensic samples. “To clear the increasing number of pending samples and fast track the cases, 98 posts will be filled via interviews and 147 on contractual basis,” read one of the resolutions. Another similar notification mentioned the rest 294 vacant posts.On February 5, HT had revealed that more than 3,4000 samples were yet to be cleared by eight forensic laboratories in the state. The reason for delay was 40% staff shortage, including vacancies in important posts such as deputy and additional directors, chemical analysers and scientific officers.However, filling of posts on contractual basis is in clear violation of HC’s directive, said experts. “How can such important and sensitive posts be filled on contractual basis,” the judges had asked assistant public prosecutor FR Shaikh. A division bench of justices Abhay Oka and Anuja Prabhudessai was commenting on the vacancies mentioned in two affidavits, filed by the Directorate of Forensics and the Home Department in reply to a PIL filed by the NGO Sahayak. While director Kalina forensic lab Dr Krishna Kulkarni wasn’t available for a comment, Dr LB Tiwari, president of Sahayak, said that there was a need to hire permanent employees rather than opting for contractual employees because the latter didn’t have any legal accountability towards the job and there was a possibility of evidence being manipulated by the accused.“Contractual employees stay with the organisation for a year or two, and they can be easily influenced by the accused. The second major issue is that the forensic department needs to be autonomous as higher officials can pressure employees,” said Tiwari.