Forensic vacancies lead to pending cases

Karnataka State

The Forensic department of Karnataka has 482 vacancies out of the total 804 sanctioned posts.

The high number of vacancies in the Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories (DFSL), Karnataka is leading to a high number of pending forensic cases. This delay also causes a delay in the judicial proceedings of many cases.

The former Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa had introduced 206 posts of Scene of Crime Officers (SCO) in 2021. All the 206 posts of SCO are still vacant. The DFSL website states total of 711 posts related to technical manpower are sanctioned by the department. Out of this, 253 posts are filled while 467 posts are still vacant. It also shows that 83 ministerial manpower posts are sanctioned; out of which 68 are filled and 15 are vacant.

59.9 percent of the total technical posts of the forensic department are vacant.

An official from the State Forensic Science Laboratory confirmed that there are vacant posts. “We are in the process of filling up the vacancies.” He said that the department is recruiting people and hopes to fill up the vacancies soon. He added that the high number of pending cases is due to the vacancies in the department and that they hope to resolve all the pending cases as soon as the recruitment is done.

The DFSL is responsible for handling all the forensic evidence of every case in Karnataka. It has seven Regional Forensic Science Laboratories spread all over the state. The head office of DFSL is the State Forensic Science Laboratory in Bengaluru. In 2020, the then Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai had announced that every district of Karnataka will have its own forensic science laboratory. He had also said that the existing laboratories will get equipped with the latest technology.

The DFSL website shows that at the end of 2021, the forensic science department had 8,986 pending cases. Majority of the pending cases are from the biology, DNA, toxicology, and mobile forensic sections.

As of December, 2021, there are 8,986 pending forensic cases in Karnataka.

Professor K. Jaishankar, Principal Director of the International Institute of Crime and Security Sciences, said, “There is a big gap between the supply and the demand.” He said that though there are a lot of people graduating with forensic science degrees, the department prefers to recruit people who have degrees both in forensic science and another subject, like physics or chemistry. He said that people who studied only forensic science are considered “Jack of all trades but master of none.”

Prof. Jaishankar said that the government will invest money in departments like tourism, where it will get good revenue in return. Forensic department and the police department do not generate revenue so the government is wary of investing money in these departments. He said that the government finds it easier to outsource forensic jobs instead of appointing people. This way it will not have to spend too much money on things like pensions. He added that the government has to keep a few posts reserved for lower caste people as per the reservation laws. But, since many of them do not have the opportunity to study forensic science, it is difficult to fill these reserved posts.

“This is a conundrum. On one side you have a lot of people who hold forensic degrees, and on the other side you are not able to appoint them, and then there are over 8,000 pending cases too,” said Prof. Jaishankar.