Prevalence of Forensic Science in the New Criminal Laws

Prevalence of Forensic Science in the New Criminal Laws

– Vidhi Solanki



In 2024, India embarked on a historic overhaul of its criminal justice system with the implementation of three new laws: the Bhartiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita, and the Bhartiya Sakshya Adhiniyam. These reforms mark a significant departure from the archaic frameworks inherited from the colonial era and introduce a modernized, victim-centric, and technologically integrated legal structure. The integration of technology and forensics in investigations is a significant move geared towards modernizing the criminal justice system and harnessing the strength of modern scientific technologies. The center is making substantial investments in forensic training and facilitating appropriate infrastructure. According to reports, over 23,000 master trainers are set to train approximately 22.5 lakh policemen, ensuring that law enforcement is well-equipped to handle the new forensic requirements. A cornerstone of these new laws is a pronounced emphasis on forensic science, reflecting a commitment to enhancing the accuracy, efficiency, and fairness of the justice delivery process.



The Role of Forensic Science in Modern Criminal Justice

Forensic science, which is the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime, has become indispensable in modern legal systems. It provides objective evidence that can corroborate or refute testimonies, link suspects to crime scenes, and establish timelines with precision. The integration of forensic science in criminal investigations not only improves the chances of accurate convictions but also helps in the swift exoneration of the innocent.



Key Forensic Provisions in the New Laws

The new criminal laws of 2024 have several provisions that mandate and facilitate the use of forensic science in investigations. One of the most notable is the requirement for mandatory forensic investigations for offenses punishable by seven years or more. This move is expected to significantly enhance the quality of evidence presented in courts, thereby increasing conviction rates. The legislation also introduces provisions for zero-FIR, e-FIR, and digital charge sheets, reflecting a move towards digitization and technological integration in the justice system. As well as to streamline the reporting and documentation processes through digitization.

Furthermore, the government has committed to significant infrastructural investments to support these forensic requirements. New forensic laboratories are being established, and existing ones are being upgraded with state-of-the-art equipment. This expansion aims to ensure that high-quality forensic services are available throughout the country, reducing the time taken for forensic analysis and increasing the reliability of results.



Victim-Centric and Justice-Oriented Approach

The new laws reflect a heightened sensitivity towards victims’ rights and prioritize their protection. This is evident in the dedicated chapters on crimes against women and children, which incorporate forensic provisions to ensure thorough investigations and robust prosecutions. By mandating forensic examinations in such cases, the laws aim to provide conclusive evidence that can support the victims’ claims and ensure justice is served.

The emphasis on forensic science also aligns with the broader objective of making the justice system more victim-centric. Forensic evidence, being objective and scientifically verifiable, reduces the reliance on victim testimony alone, which can be a source of significant stress and trauma for the victims. This approach not only bolsters the case against perpetrators but also alleviates the burdens on victims during trials.



Enhancing the Efficiency of the Justice System

One of the primary goals of the new laws is to expedite the delivery of justice. The integration of forensic science is a key element in achieving this objective. Forensic evidence can streamline the investigation process, reducing the time taken to gather and verify evidence. This, in turn, speeds up trials and ensures timely justice.

The digitalization of FIRs and charge sheets further contributes to this efficiency. By enabling electronic filing and processing of cases, the laws reduce the administrative burden on law enforcement and judicial authorities, allowing them to focus on substantive issues. This digital transformation is expected to facilitate faster communication, better case management, and more efficient tracking of cases through the judicial system.



Training and capacity building

The successful implementation of these forensic provisions hinges on the competence of the personnel involved. Recognizing this, the government has launched extensive training programs to equip law enforcement officers, forensic experts, and judicial officers with the necessary skills and knowledge. These programs cover various aspects of forensic science, including crime scene management, evidence collection, forensic analysis, and the interpretation of forensic reports.

The training also emphasizes the importance of maintaining the chain of custody and ensuring the integrity of forensic evidence. This is crucial in preventing tampering and contamination, which can compromise the admissibility and reliability of evidence in court. By building a well-trained and proficient workforce, the new laws aim to enhance the overall quality of forensic investigations and ensure their effective utilization in the justice system.



Challenges and the Road Ahead

While the new laws mark a significant step forward, their successful implementation will require overcoming several challenges. These include ensuring adequate funding for forensic infrastructure, addressing the shortage of trained forensic professionals, and managing the increased workload in forensic laboratories. Additionally, there is a need to continuously update and upgrade forensic technologies to keep pace with advancements in the field.

Collaboration between various stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, forensic institutions, the judiciary, and the government, will be essential in addressing these challenges. Continuous monitoring and evaluation of the implementation process will also be crucial in identifying and rectifying any issues that may arise.



On a concluding note, the new criminal laws of 2024 represent a transformative approach to the Indian criminal justice system, with forensic science playing a pivotal role. By mandating forensic investigations, investing in infrastructure and training, and integrating modern technologies, these laws aim to create a more efficient, accurate, and victim-centric justice system. As these reforms take effect, they hold the promise of not only enhancing the delivery of justice but also reinforcing public trust in the legal system.