Monday , October 25 2021

Maneka Gandhi lays the foundation of India’s first Advanced DNA Forensic Lab in Chandigarh

Built at a cost of Rs 99.76 crore from the Nirbhaya Fund, the state-of-the-art ‘Sakhi Suraksha’ lab, will come up at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory campus to assist in investigation and prosecution of crimes including those committed against women and children, an official release said.

Speaking at the event, the minister said forensic analysis plays critical role in criminal investigation and the upcoming lab will contribute in addressing the gap in forensic DNA analysis of pending sexual assault cases in the country. It will be a model forensic lab that would be replicated in other parts of the country, she added.

On the completion of the project by the end of this year, the new laboratory will help to meet the demand for more admissible, accurate and powerful forensic proof in the cases of crime against women and children.

The Minister mentioned that the current capacity of CFSL, Chandigarh is less than 160 cases per year and the Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory is estimated to increase the capacity to 2,000 cases per year.  The Minister further said that 5 more advanced forensic labs would come up in Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati, Pune and Bhopal in the next 3 months bringing the total minimum annual capacity of the labs to 50,000 cases. 

The Labs in Chennai and Mumbai would be set up with WCD funds while remaining 3 labs would be set up with funds by Home Ministry. To meet international standards and deliver timely justice to women, advanced forensic DNA laboratories with latest high throughput DNA technology, are required, she added.

According to the plan, the lab will have four units– sexual assault and homicide, paternity, human identification, and mitochondrial. Apart from the sexual assault and homicide units, the other three are interlinked and will work to examine cases related to crime against women and children, the release said.

The paternity unit is essential to solve cases related to criminal paternity, gender selection and child swapping in hospitals. Human identification unit is important in cases of missing persons or children. The mitochondrial unit will conduct mitochondrial DNA analysis in cases where regular nuclear DNA analysis is not possible such as in case of highly degraded samples. It can also be used to better explore family relationships, said the release.

At present there are 6 Central Forensic Science Labs (CFSLs) in Chandigarh, Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Bhopal and one State Forensic Science Lab in each State/UT.  These labs are responsible for conducting forensic analysis of all cases in the country including sexual assault, criminal paternity and homicide. 

She also said her ministry will soon come out with a kit for police stations and hospitals for the collection of evidence like blood and semen samples in rape cases. The kits will contain instructions on the evidence that needs to be collected from the crime scene. The kit with the samples will then be locked and sent to the forensic laboratory. It will mention the time when it was sealed and the names of the police officer and the doctor involved in the case. She said the rape kits, for which the money will come from the Nirbhaya Fund, will be available by July-end at every police station.

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