In an unprecedented order, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look into the irregularities noticed by it in certain DNA reports prepared by Forensic Science Laboratory, Delhi.
The Bench comprising Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice P.S. Teji ordered, “The present case involves the working of the FSL Delhi, whose reports are called for by the prosecution and courts in a large number of cases, and the said reports are led in evidence and relied upon by the Court in the formation of their decisions. Thus, there can be no gainsaying that the matter involves public interest at large. The circumstances, prima facie, could disclose the commission of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Indian Penal Code etc. if thoroughly investigated.
Accordingly, we direct the CBI to register a preliminary inquiry and to look into the working of the FSL in the matter of formation of reports in respect of samples received by them, particularly the DNA reports.”
The Court had been approached by the State challenging a judgment passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, acquitting one Khursheed for the rape of an eight-year-old girl. The Trial Court had ruled that the version of the prosecutrix was untrustworthy, due to various improvements, contradictions and inconsistencies in the same.
During the course of hearing of the appeal, the High Court had noted that the FSL report had suggested that the DNA profile generated from the semen found on the underwear of the prosecutrix did not match the DNA profile generated from the blood sample of the accused. The Court had however found “something amiss” in this report, owing to the testimony of the mother, who caught the accused red-handed, and the medical evidence that pointed towards the guilt of the accused.
The Court had further noted that the FSL report was not even exhibited before the Trial Court, though found on the record. Consequently, it had directed the Director, FSL to remain present in the Court on 16 May. It then came to the notice of the court that another report in a similar case by the same FSL officer, Ms. L. Babito Devi was found to be false when the examination was directed to be conducted again by another officer.
Additionally, the Court was left astonished at the fact that when the original record was handed over to it, its seal was broken. It noted, “The FSL routinely deals with samples produced in sealed condition so as to maintain its sanctity. We are, therefore, surprised that the sealed envelope containing the worksheets should have been opened in such a casual manner. We have, therefore, decided to retain the worksheets contained in the yellow envelope in this Court.”
It had then considered it necessary to order a fresh DNA report from the FSL, directing it to draw new samples from the evidence on the record as well as fresh blood samples from the prosecutrix as well as the accused. The new DNA report returned findings contrary to the findings recorded by the first report.
After repeating the tests, the Court examined several other officers instrumental in the process of conducting the tests afresh. The officer, Ms. L. Babito Devi was also examined.
The Court then highlighted the implications of such false reports, observing, “The reports prepared by the FSL could have serious consequences – both for the victim and the accused. A false report in favour of the accused would lead to grave miscarriage of justice for the victim and for the society at large, as the rule of law would stand subverted with the acquittal of an offender, who deserves to be brought to justice. On the other hand, a false report against the accused can lead to an even more grave miscarriage of justice, as an innocent person may get falsely implicated.”
It thereafter opined that since it was coming across several such cases from time to time, it cannot pass off such incorrect reports as mere bona fide and genuine mistakes, and observed, “The possibility of either the samples being compromised, or the reports being manipulated to suit one or the other party, cannot be ruled out. The involvement of outsiders/ touts is highly probable in a case like the present, where the accused hails from a humble background and would not have had the wherewithal of directly approaching the investigating officers, or the police officials, or the officers of the FSL for seeking favours.”
The Court, therefore, directed the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry and to look into the working of the FSL in the matter of formation of reports in respect of samples received by them, particularly the DNA reports. It further directed an examination of the reports submitted by Ms. Devi, giving CBI the liberty to proceed in the matter if the preliminary inquiry discloses any cognizable offence by those responsible for the collection of samples and preparation of reports.
It ordered, “The reports prepared by Ms. L. Babito Devi from time to time shall particularly be examined by the CBI and her activities etc. should be thoroughly investigated. If the preliminary inquiry discloses commission of the cognizable offence by any of the persons involved in the matter of collection of samples and preparation of reports, the CBI shall, accordingly, proceed in the matter.”
Thereafter, convicting Khursheed, a copy of the judgment was directed to be communicated to the Director, CBI for taking action forthwith