18 Nov 2021 9:30 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday urged the state government to fill up vacant posts in Forensic Science Laboratories in the state, to improve its functioning which would help in early disposal of criminal trials pending in courts. A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum on going through the compliance report submitted by the...
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday urged the state government to fill up vacant posts in Forensic Science Laboratories in the state, to improve its functioning which would help in early disposal of criminal trials pending in courts.
A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum on going through the compliance report submitted by the state government pursuant to the interim directions issued by the court on August 13, said,
"The perusal of the compliance report indicates that only compliance on paper has been done as no appointment has been made on the post of Joint Director, Deputy Directors and other officers as stipulated in the order."
It added, "No positive compliance is reflected from the compliance report. We are not satisfied with the efforts made by the respondent to make compliance with the order dated 13/08/2021."
The court granted six weeks time for the state government to make complete compliance of the order and observed, "It is made clear that the direction issued by the court are not adversarial in nature and it is for the benefit of the department itself to comply the said directions, as it will improve the functioning of FSL and will help in early disposal of criminal trials pending in the courts of the State of Karnataka."
In its order dated August 13, the court had noted, "There is a gross violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India on account of state machinery not performing its duties. It is the obligation on the part of the State to provide speedy access to justice."
The direction was given during the hearing of a suo-motu petition initiated based on the order passed by a single judge bench, dated December 22, 2020 in which it had issued several directions to the state government for filling up of vacancies.
On going through the affidavits filed by the government on filling up of posts and providing proper facilities at laboratories, the court had observed,
"It appears that the steps now being taken are literally baby steps and those steps are far too less compared to what action is required to be taken by the State Government, more particularly, keeping in mind that many of these forensic science test reports are required in criminal matters where many a time the accused is in judicial custody and trial is delayed due to non-receipt of the report from the Forensic Science Laboratories, thereby impinging on the fundamental rights of the accused guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution."
Further, the court had said, "Apart from the delay affecting the undertrials, the same also has a deep impact on the victims and/or the families of the victims, who are subjected to trauma over an extended period of time due to the delay of the FSL."
It had added, "In the above background, it is clear that there is a duty imposed on the State to enable speedy resolution of criminal matters, which would include the aspect of setting up of a system to enable speedy analysis of all forensic samples and submissions of reports."
As per details given to the court, three posts of joint directors, seven posts of deputy directors, 18 posts of assistant directors, 35 posts of senior scientific officers and 138 posts of scientific officers are vacant at various FSLs in the state. A report in relation to a Narcotic matter takes 1 year, Computer/mobile/audio-video forensics takes about 1 and half year, a DNA test takes 1 and half years, these being average time.
Case Title: High Court of Karnataka v. State of Karnataka
Case No: W.P No.2739 of 2021