The Weekend Leader - Himachal's forensic labs to have DNA technology upgrades

Himachal's forensic labs to have DNA technology upgrades



State-run Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Himachal Pradesh is all set to make new DNA technology upgrades to its state and two range forensic science laboratories (RFSLs) that will increase the number of cases being analysed, an official said on Thursday.

The FSL in Junga near here is the first in the country to initiate well-equipped DNA facilities in all its labs.

The aim is to accelerate the DNA profiling process that will lead to quicker investigation and trial, thus fast-tracking the criminal justice system, FSL Director Arun Sharma told reporters here.

According to a three-year data shared by the FSL, sexual assault and rape makes up for 44 per cent of the total cases received for DNA profiling.

A total of 900 cases are still pending for DNA analysis and 14 per cent of this number is samples from victims of sexual assault, he said.

These new DNA technology upgrades will essentially bring down the number of unsolved sexual assault crimes in the state.

"In the light of the state of heinous crimes in Himachal Pradesh, we are already working on upgrading our systems. To start with, we have invested over Rs 1.50 crore on a new 24 capillary DNA sequencer that will replace the older four-capillary sequencer," Sharma said.

He said a Robotic DNA Extraction System with an outlay of Rs 30 lakh would enhance the quantity and quality of DNA extraction.

Sharma said the new upgrades are already in the process of procurement and that they are in the final stages of monetary bid evaluation with the suppliers. These new equipment will be a part of FSL inventory within the next four to eight weeks.

Underlining the crime situation in the state, Assistant Director (DNA) with the FSL Vivek Sahajpal said: "A DNA database is crucial to solve crimes involving repeat offenders."

For example, he said, serious heinous repeat crimes such as the rape and murder of a teacher in Paonta Sahib and the infamous Gudiya gangrape and murder case reported recently indicated that a DNA database would have helped fast-track these cases.

"In fact, if we had a DNA database, cases such as the recent Navi Mumbai rape and murder case that took eight years and 900 DNA profiles to nab the criminal could have been solved in a shorter period, thus saving many lives in the process," Sahajpal added.

The Founder and President of public affairs consultancy firm Gordon Thomas Honeywell -- Governmental Affairs, Tim Schellberg, said Himachal Pradesh has taken a great step forward by upgrading its forensic facilities.

"This amazing initiative is in the right direction, aiding to facilitate more DNA casework, and create more DNA yield in a really short span of time, thus reducing backlogs and pendency in cases of heinous crimes."-IANS

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