No end to crisis in J&K FSL as reorganization remains on papers

Almost all posts of Scientific Officers, Assts lying vacant

*Non-technical officials rule the roost in lab

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, May 16: There is no end to the crisis in the Jammu and Kashmir Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) as the decision about the reorganization taken several months back has remained on papers because of the absolute non-seriousness on the part of the concerned authorities.
Due to inaction on the decision of the then State Administrative Council almost all the posts of Scientific Officers and Assistant Scientific Officers are lying vacant and non-technical officials are ruling the roost in the lab, which otherwise is supposed to play a crucial role in the criminal justice system.
Vide Government Order No.594 dated June 11, 2019, the Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department Shaleen Kabra ordered placement of eight Scientific Officers of the Forensic Science Laboratory as Incharge Deputy Directors in their own pay and grade for a period of six months or till the posts are filled up on regular basis on the recommendations of the DPC/PSC.
Thereafter, the then State Administrative Council vide Decision No.274/22/2019 dated October 22, 2019 accorded sanction to the reorganization of the J&K Forensic Science Laboratory in order to overcome the crisis which the Lab is facing during the past several decades.
However, despite lapse of several months the much-needed reorganization has remained on the papers only because of absolute non-serious approach on the part of all the concerned authorities particularly those who are at the helm of affairs in the Forensic Science Laboratory, sources told EXCELSIOR.
The major aspect of the reorganization was creation of 88 additional posts particularly of technical cadre like Scientific Officers and non-technical cadre like Assistant Scientific Officers for all the divisions of the FSL like narcotics/chemical, biology/serology, physical and technical.
“The entire process of making recruitment for these 88 posts is held up because of inordinate delay in updation of rules”, sources disclosed, adding “due to inaction on the reorganization all the posts of the Scientific Officers are lying vacant in Jammu as well as Srinagar wings of the Forensic Science Laboratory”.
They further informed, “there are eight Assistant Scientific Officers in the Srinagar wing of the FSL while as there is only one Assistant Scientific Officer in Jammu and he too has been attached with Police Control Room for visiting scenes of crime”, adding “the alarming fact is that only three Assistant Scientific Officers have been appointed since 1983 when last reorganization of the FSL was held”.
Stating that Forensic Science Laboratory has become an organization of comfortable posting for the police personnel, sources said that against six sanctioned posts of police personnel of various ranks more than two dozen police personnel are posted in the FSL at present. On the other side, only two civilian ministerial personnel are posted in the FSL though sanctioned strength for such cadre is more than 12.
Recently, a Sub-Inspector of Police was authorized by the Director of the FSL to work as DNA expert in contravention to the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, 1972. “No doubt the qualification of the Sub-Inspector is MSc Biotechnology but he cannot be assigned the job of an expert especially when FSL is not his parent organization”, sources further disclosed.
“Whether his opinion as ‘DNA expert’ would be admissible in the court of law remains a million dollar question”, sources said, adding “the Sub-Inspector on several grounds approached the Director for not assigning him the duty of signing the DNA analysis reports but his representation was turned down”.
Had there been swift action in making recruitments against the posts sanctioned by the State Administrative Council while according approval to the reorganization of the Forensic Science Laboratory such a situation would have not emerged and sufficient number of Scientific Officers as well as Assistant Scientific Officers would have been available to ensure smooth functioning of the lab, sources said.
“If the reorganization is not given serious thought immediately the situation would worsen further as some Assistant Scientific Officers are going to attain the age of superannuation within next few months”, they informed.
Even there is confusion about administrative control over the Forensic Science Laboratory as websites of both the Home Department and Jammu and Kashmir Police show FSL as their part. “Actually this dual control is responsible for the prevailing crisis in the FSL, which otherwise should receive priority attention of the Government keeping in view its important role in the criminal justice system”, sources said.


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