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Forensic Science Laboratories in India

Patcheappan. S

5 Jun 2022

The field of forensic science is an integral part of the criminal justice system

The field of forensic science is an integral part of the criminal justice system. Forensic scientists collect and analyse evidence from crime scenes and other locations in order to produce objective results that can aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminals or clear an innocent person. These pieces of evidence are neutral and act as mute witnesses against the criminals. During the investigation, a forensic scientist also assists police in gathering the appropriate evidentiary material from the crime site. Thus, forensic scientists become crucial scientific advisors to the investigating team.

The Forensic Science Laboratory is responsible for the examination and analysis of evidentiary materials in areas including Chemistry, Arson, Firearms, Tool marks, Questioned Documents, Serology, Biochemistry, Trace Evidence, Latent Fingerprints, Imprints and Impressions, Instrumentation and DNA. In addition, the Laboratory often is requested to assist provide training and technical assistance in various fields and assist with the reconstruction of a crime. Directorate of Forensic Science Services under The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs maintains seven The Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in India, at Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Guwahati, Bhopal and Pune. CFSL Hyderabad is Centre of excellence in chemical sciences, CFSL Kolkata (oldest laboratory in India) in biological sciences and CFSL Chandigarh in physical sciences whereas CFSL New Delhi comes under Central Bureau of Investigation, Delhi. These laboratories are under the control of the Directorate of Forensic Science Services (DFSS) of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The laboratory in New Delhi is under the control of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and investigates cases on its behalf.


The identification of blood, body fluids in liquid or stain form and the individualization of these samples is carried out by the Serology - Biochemistry section of the Laboratory. The principles and techniques of immunology, biochemistry, hematology, and molecular biology are employed to determine - the type of stain, if the stain is human or from some other animal species, and what blood group substances or iso-enzymes may be present in the stain, if it is human. Major cases such as homicides and sexual assaults typically involve the analysis of blood, semen, tissues, or other physiological fluids. The biological materials which may be present in these and other types of cases provide information on the type of sample and the genetic markers present. These results can then be compared to known body fluids for inclusion or exclusion of a suspect or victim as a source of the evidence.


Biological materials composed of or containing cells with a nucleus can be analyzed for the DNA profile of the individual. Since the DNA of all individuals, except for identical twins is unique, the potential for individualization of a sample is great utilizing this method. The DNA, the genetic material of the cell, must be isolated and purified prior to testing. Once DNA is obtained those techniques currently employed in the Forensic Laboratories involve: (1) identification of variations, in the length of specific portions of the DNA molecule caused by repeated sequences, called RFLP analysis and (2) amplification of variable, small portions of DNA by the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and detection of these products. DNA has been obtained from blood, semen, saliva, bone, and other tissues.


The Latent Fingerprint examiners are responsible for processing latent fingerprints on evidence submitted to the Laboratory. Many physical and chemical methods for the detection and visualization of latent fingerprints may be employed including traditional methods such as powder dusting and ninhydrin or super glue treatment; methods with specialized applications include laser and alternate light examination, chemical enhancement, and bloody print enhancement. After latent fingerprints have been developed, these are photographed and characteristics of the latent fingerprint are individualized, then compared to the suspect's or other inked prints for identification or elimination purposes. A positive match results in the absolute identification of the individual source of the latent fingerprint.


The examinations of handwriting, typewriting, printing, ink and paper, as well as other aspects of a document or writing instrument are carried utilizing instrumental and photographic techniques. Examinations can involve identifying the source or writer of a document, determining authenticity of a signature, or the age of a document. Alternate light examination of documents may allow for the detection of alterations and obliterated writings or erasures.


Imprint and impression evidence includes various types of two- or three- dimensional markings, such as footwear impressions, tire impressions, and footprints. These patterns are documented photographically, with casting materials, alternate light, or electrostatic "dust" print techniques. Determination of the class characteristics of an impression allows for the identification of the type of object which made the marking and, at times, the manufacturer. The identification and comparison of individual characteristics between the questioned imprint and a known exemplar may result in the determination that a particular Object within the class made that impression or imprint. When comparing imprints or impressions the examiner must consider the effects of casting materials, if used, the material in which the imprint or impression was made, the method of development of the imprint or impression, and other factors.


The examination of firearms, discharged bullets, cartridge cases, shot shells, and other ammunition and various weapons are all conducted by the firearms section. The examiners may attempt to determine what kind of weapon fired the bullet, if a particular weapon fired a bullet or cartridge, or what type of ammunition was used. In addition, the test firing of weapons is conducted to determine if a weapon is functional. Undertakes examination of firearms, bullets, cartridge cases etc. used in crime, examines residues left in gun barrels, remnants of gun powder etc, on skin and clothing and also examine the condition of suspected firearms, evaluates distance of firing and effectiveness (energetic). Examines arms/ammunition in cases under Arms Act. The work is done only at Bombay and not at Nagpur, Pune or Aurangabad. Restoration of serial numbers or other altered impressions in metal is also carried out in this section of the Laboratory.


Specialized techniques in the documentation of crime scenes, accident scenes, and physical evidence are used by the Forensic Photographers. Photographic enhancement, Ultraviolet (UV) or Infrared (IR) photography, and various lighting techniques may be employed to demonstrate a particular characteristic on physical evidence or to document the patterns at a scene. The skills of the Laboratory photographers are also employed for the preparation of court exhibits and other photographic displays for the Department of Public Safety.


The Directorate undertakes the following work

(1) Analysing and issuing of reports on exhibit submitted by Police and Medical Officers, in cases pertaining to criminal offences (charged under the Indian Penal Code etc.) or investigation of sudden deaths (Section 174 of Code of Criminal Procedure). Analysis of material submitted under the Bombay Prohibition Act and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

(2) Supply expert information within the scope of its duties to any Department of Government, which may consult it.

(3) Deal with medico-legal and toxicological exhibits submitted by Military Medical Officers.

(4) Attend courts of law as Expert Witness, when called upon to do so.

(5) Impart training to police and Medical Officers in use of scientific aids in crime investigation and detection.

(6) Accept analytical work on payment of fee from Police and Medical Officer of Administration of Daman, Diu and the State of Goa. (In some cases, for sufficient reasons; at its discretion, accept analytical work from other private or public bodies on payment of fee, if necessary.

Duties of the Forensic Science Laboratories

The forensic Science Laboratories have the following responsibilities while working for the causes of criminal justice delivery system, they include

1. Providing professional and technical assistance to the investigating officers to recognize appropriate evidence materials at the scene of crime, proper collection and preservation of the clue materials.

2. Preliminary analysis of the clue materials at the scene of crime and Forensic analysis of clue materials by latest analytical methodologies in the laboratory.

3. Issuance of certificates of opinion by interpreting the forensic results so obtained & in cases referred to FSL/RFSLs.

4. Testifying forensic evidence so generated before the Courts of Law.

5. Device and execute need based training programme to the Investigating officers, Judicial Officers and Medical Officers and other user agencies.

6. Research and development of innovative and newer methodologies for proactive and preventive Forensics.

1. Central Forensic Science Laboratory, New Delhi

This is a dynamic multi-disciplinary forensic science laboratory devoted to the ideals of excellence that provides leadership to advance forensic science and its application to the legal system. The objectives of the Laboratory are to promote professionalism, integrity, competency, education, foster interdisciplinary research, embrace new technology, improve practice, nurture young minds and encourage collaboration in the scientific fraternity. The laboratory provides guidance and training to the officials of the state and judicial officers. It works for the promotion and development of all other forensic science laboratories in India. The laboratory though having all the facility for conducting Narco Analysis Test but it refers all the cases to the forensic science laboratory, Bengaluru or Gandhinagar and as such no data is available for narco-analysis test.

It has following functions:

1. To provide dependable and timely forensic science services with accessibility and affordability to all those seeking Truth and Justice.

2. To formulate a proper Evidence management system (Identification, recovering, preserving, processing and submitting conclusive evidence in courts of law).

3. To earn accreditation and to maintain International Forensic Standards.

4. To provide an ambient environment to cater sophistications with complete spectrum of upto-date professional forensic laboratory services and mentoring various labs this will be working independently.

5. Analysis and examination of exhibits of Documents, Computer Hardware, Mobiles, blood, semen, saliva, hairs, bones, DNA, etc., viscera, drugs, alcohol, petroleum products, fire arms, bullets, building material, road accidents, decipherment and restoration of altered numbers of stolen vehicles, soil analysis, Audio, Video tapes, Speaker identification etc. polygraph examination of suspects etc referred by Delhi Police and Hon’ble court of Law for expert opinion.

6. Attending the scene of crime.

7. Attending courts of law for tendering expert testimony.

8. Research and Development work on all aspect of the forensic science.

9. Teaching and training functions covering all aspects of forensic science in respect of working forensic scientist, Police officers, Medico legal, administrative officers, research scholars/ students of forensic science from various universities.

10. Assist and co-operate with state forensic science Laboratories, state forensic universities and institutes in various technical and organizational matters.

11. Providing Technical advice and opinion to Hon’ble Courts of Law on matters related to forensic science and its application in criminal investigation.

2. Forensic Science Laboratory, Lucknow

The Forensic Science Laboratory, Lucknow was set up on 1969 in Mahanagar colony, Lucknow. Before establishment of this Laboratory the cases related to crime exhibits was examined in scientific section of Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D.), U.P. but looking the importance of the scientific approaches in criminal justice system in 1967 a detailed proposal superseding all the previous proposals to setup a Forensic Science Laboratory in the State was submitted. Finally, Government order was issued to convert Scientific Section of Criminal Investigation Department into a Forensic Science. Laboratory. The U.P. Police Commission 1970-71 recommended merging the Chemical Examiner's Laboratory at Agra with the Forensic Science Laboratory at Lucknow. A Govt. order was issued in the year 1979 for the merger of the Chemical Examiner's Laboratory, Agra and the Forensic Science Laboratory, Lucknow.

3. Central forensic science laboratory, Chandigarh

The functions of the laboratory are mainly of three-fold, firstly, to conduct R&D activities on the various problems of the forensic sciences; secondly, to provide forensic crime case analytical support to the investigating agencies and the judiciary and lastly, to impart specialized training on the forensic science to the forensic scientists, police officers, judicial officers and the other law enforcement officers. The technical functions of the laboratory are practically organized into seven divisions, i.e., Ballistics, Biology, Chemistry, Explosive, Physics, Toxicology and Questioned Documents.

4. The Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad

It is popularly known as CFSL, Hyderabad, was established in the Year 1967 and is one of the seven Central Forensic Science Laboratories in India. CFSL is situated at Ramanthapur, which is about 9 kms from the heart of the Hyderabad City. The Laboratory is presently working under the administrative control of Directorate of Forensic Science Services, Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi. The Laboratory today is one of the most comprehensive Laboratories in the country with 7 fully equipped Forensic Divisions namely Ballistics, Biology, Chemistry, Documents, Explosives, Physics and Toxicology along with two specilalised units for Computer Forensics and DNA profiling. The Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad is committed to deliver the quality work for all its functional disciplines and is an NABL Accredited ISO/IEC 17025 Certified laboratory with a strong vision to be the leading Forensic Science Laboratory of the Nation in providing prompt and dependable services of international standards to the Criminal justice system and Motto of Promoting good practices and standards. The experts of CFSL examine the exhibits forwarded by the Investigating Agencies and render expert opinion and substantiate their opinions in the Court of Law through court testimony and evidence. Scientists/experts also impart training to the Officers in other trainees of Forensic Science. The laboratory also undertakes R & D work related to art & skill developments in forensic science.

5. Central forensic science laboratories: Bhopal

The laboratory comprises of six divisions namely Biology/Serology, Questioned Document and Photography, Chemistry/Narcotics, Ballistics, Computer Forensic and Speaker Identification and Audio-Video Tape Authentication. Other divisions such as Forensic Intelligence, Forensic Psychology, Forensic Toxicology, Explosive, Forensic Physics and Forensic Engineering are also to be developed. CFSL Bhopal is committed to provide dependable Forensic Science Service of International Standards to Justice Delivery System by doing continuous research and developmental efforts. This will help in providing un-delayed justice to the common man in the North Eastern states through the aids of science.

6. Central forensic science laboratories, Pune

The Central Forensic Science Laboratory Pune, under the administrative control of the Directorate of Forensic Science Services, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. Of India, New Delhi is established under XIIth Five Year Plan Scheme of Directorate of Forensic Science Services entitled ‘Establishment of new CFSL’s, Expansion and Modernization of existing CFSL’s of DFSS. The Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Pune is established for the forensic examination of various crime exhibits by using conventional and sophisticated instrumental methods.

7. Central forensic science laboratories, Guwahati

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India (GoI) established Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in the year 2011 at Guwahati, under the Directorate of Forensic Science Services (DFSS), New Delhi. The aim for the establishment of new CFSL, Guwahati is to propagate and carry out credible forensic science practices in the country, especially in the North-Eastern States of Union of India. Hon’ble Union Home Minister Shri. Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone of new building at Kamrup (near Guwahati) on 29th November 2014 and the constructed building was inaugurated by him on 6th March 2019. The CFSL, Kamrup is dedicated to provide dependable forensic science services to the justice delivery system. The scientists of CFSL examine exhibits forwarded by the investigating agencies and render examination report/opinion and substantiate in the Court of Law through court testimony. The laboratories also undertake R&D work in the grey areas of Forensic Science for the development of forensic science in the country. CFSL, Kamrup, a premier Forensic Laboratory under MHA, Government of India, is handling Biology cases from 2014 onward and now is in the process of establishing DNA Profiling facility.

Author Patcheappan. S is Assistant Public Prosecutor, Puducherry

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