This post is contributed by Amisha Saxena, Symbiosis Law School,Hyderabad.
What is Forensic Science ?
The term forensic has been derived from the Latin word forensic which means ‘related to the Court’. Forensic science is what explains doubts and questions in a court of law.
Definition: The scientific discipline which helps the criminal justice system by analyzing the crime articles in identification, individualization, and evaluation of the physical clue materials using the principles and methods of all-natural sciences.
Therefore, forensic science does not relate individually to one science, it is a mix of multiple sciences.
History of forensic science can be traced in old Indian texts. Arthashastra by Kautilya shows that people tried to use various methods to extract objective evidence to catch a criminal. The Charak Samhita also contains an elaborate chapter on toxicology.
It uses the scientific principles of physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics.
Today forensic science has developed its own branches, like DNA profiling, fingerprint examination, ballistics and document examination.
The Indian Criminal Justice system uses forensic science but its application is fairly limited. Criminal Law has a well-established principle, that for acquittal, the defence only needs to establish a reasonable doubt in the mind of the judge or the jury. This becomes a fairly easy job if the evidence is mishandled or not analysed properly by forensic experts. Therefore, an urgent need of proper application of forensic science occurs for dissemination of justice.
To specify it further, the following factors have increased the need of forensic science in the field of law:
1. Social change: India has grown from a small, agrarian British colony to one of the biggest democratic republic. Transport and communication facilities have also improved further, allowing a person to commit a crime in one corner of the city and reaching the other in less than an hour. Therefore, multiple tracking methods have become obsolete.
2. Anonymity: In today’s digitally equipped world, people have become more reserved and avoid going out. Sometimes, they don’t even know their next door neighbours. Often in case of murders of neighbours people tend to find out only when a decaying smell is sensed. Disappearing without a trace has become very easy.
3. Technical knowledge: Criminals have become equipped with technically advanced weapons and devices and to combat the same, modern techniques need to be used by police officers and crime prevention teams too.
4. The world has become small: With the popularity of the internet, the world has become a smaller place and crimes like smuggling, money laundering and cyber-crimes have become common. The crime prevention forces need to be adequately equipped to deal with the same.
Why is forensic evidence better than any other evidence?
Forensic evidence is concrete and objective.
If we take an example of fingerprints that are found at a crime scene, they are unique and can belong only to one person. Similarly, a bullet discovered from a dead body can be sent for ballistic analysis and the firearm from which it was shot can be determined. Therefore, it provides more reliable results.
Nature of forensic science– Forensic science is multi-professional and multi-disciplinary in nature.
1. Multi-professional: A forensic scientist has to depend on the investigating officer, presenting counsel and the judge in a case for the proper utilisation of the evidence found.
The investigating officer needs to have proper knowledge of how to collect the evidence, preserve and pack it.The counsel and judge should also have enough knowledge to co-relate the scientific evidence to the facts of the case.Even the public should know the importance of a crime scene and avoid contamination of it in any form.
2. Multi-disciplinary: As mentioned before, forensic science is an all-inclusive science. Forensic laboratories require experts who are trained in their field and know how to deal with expensive equipment that is necessary to extract evidence.
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