Criminal law is that body of the legal system which elucidates the crime, apprehension, and trials of the suspected person and many more things which are interweaved to it. Moreover, criminal law is the kind of set of rules and regulations through which the individual’s interest in society is carried out and protected in an amenable manner.
Medical jurisprudence is a branch of the study of medicine which deals with the application of the same upon the law. Even though medical jurisprudence, legal medicine, and forensic medicine are widely used words that connote the application of medical concepts over the ambit of law albeit they all have different definitions. Forensic medicine is that which falls under the ambit of Medical jurisprudence dealing with the application of scientific skills to the matters of law.
In many cases of unnatural deaths, suicide, rapes, etc, through various methods i.e., Sample collection, conducting an autopsy, etc, there has to be an active role of forensic science which could assist the Courts to prosecute the suspects. Since legal development is governed by the state, and medico-legal cases involving homicide, rape, blood relations, profiling criminals, etc., involve a medical professional to generate proof and appear as an expert witness, these two fields have historically been mutually dependent.
However, by the time accrued there was a proliferation in the area of criminal law and which resulted in the paramount nexus between medical jurisprudence and criminal law. Intrinsically, it applies medical knowledge to criminal law in an expedient way. The importance of medical jurisprudence in criminal investigations is often underestimated and held unreliable.
The present article will divulge the traces of criminal law and forensic medicine and it shall be proved that how both are contemporaneous to each other in today’s time and dependent upon each other along with restrictive convergence of the same shall be put forward and lastly this article shall be concluded by suggestions through which enhancement could be put forth and reliability could be increased.
Medico-Legal Role In Evolving India
Medicine and law have been linked since the beginning of history, with tradition, superstition, and illusion emerging as unifying factors. This relation resulted in the need to protect communities from the irresponsible actions of impostors. In primitive society, according to Kautilya’s Arthashastra, death can be caused by four methods: strangling, hanging, asphyxiation, or drowning. The Atharva Veda contains data on charms that can be used to treat a variety of diseases.
Before independence, the criminal justice system in India was supported scientifically by institutions known as Chemical Examiner’s Laboratories, which were founded in the mid-nineteenth century. The first chemical Examiner’s Laboratory was established in Madras in 1849, and the Tandoor Murder Case was the first criminal case in India solved with the aid of forensics. The accused was found guilty based on forensic evidence including DNA profiling etc.
There are approximately twenty existing forensic science laboratories in India today, four of which are controlled by the Central Government and the rest by State Governments.
Application of Medical Jurisprudence Upon Criminal Law
It is apprised that, the paramount nexus between medical jurisprudence and criminal law is termed as Forensic science. Ipso facto, forensic science is that area of medical science which deals with criminal law. To understand this concept well, let’s take an example, the composition of blood stains is clarified using physics, biology is used to determine the background of an unidentified perpetrator, and similarly, to determine the composition of medicines, scientists use chemistry.
Involvement Of Forensic Science In Law
In today’s time justice is not a hassle-free task. It takes several procedures to get through. In many cases, beginning from the commencement of crime, then lodging an FIR followed by investigation and trial and concluded by Judgment, either conviction or acquittal. If it is a conviction, then there would be several elements that must have played their respective roles towards bringing home guilt of the accused whereas if it is acquittal then also it plays an important role in proving the innocence.
Taylor defines evidence as “all means which tend to prove or disprove any matter, fact, the truth of which is submitted to judicial investigation.” In a broader sense, evidence is the only thing that supports the conviction or opposes the same and many cases are devoid of direct evidence which shifts the entire burden upon the evidence based upon circumstances where forensic science being a fulcrum, as it offers the significant piece of evidence including Rigor mortis, DNA analysis, etc from the crime scene which leads the court to the conclusion.
Forensic science is the use of paramedical knowledge to assist the administration of justice. The duty of a forensic scientist is very crucial as it involves the scrutiny of the piece of evidence that could link the accused to the crime. They go to the crime scene and collect available incriminating evidence to maintain the chain of custody in cases of homicide, suicide, sexual offences, etc.
The primary tool of forensic science is ‘conducting autopsy’ which is used to determine many factors such as identification of the deceased, cause of death, weapons used in committing the crime, etc. After the collection of all such evidence the chain of custody becomes more stringent and reliable which helps the authorities to identify the accused and later on to strengthen the case for conviction of the accused.
The Indian Justice system has a righteous belief in forensic science and has acted upon the same in a tenable manner whilst delivering judgment. Forensic reports do carry weight for many judges and have been regarded as plausible by the experts. Law enforcing agencies often place their reliance upon forensic scientists to solve the cases in which the mysterious death has occurred and subsequently to assist Court.
Furthermore, in a case of Abdul Sayeed v. State Of M.P, SC reiterated the importance of medical evidence and held that “Where the medical evidence goes so far that it completely rules out all possibility of the ocular evidence being true, the ocular evidence may be disbelieved” It is evident from the above-mentioned judgment that Investigation and forensic science go hand in hand and Court’s reliance upon the same is impeccable.
Restrictive Application Of Forensic Science In Criminal Investigation
However, it should be borne in mind that if forensic evidence has contributed crucially then parallelly one can discern its restrictive usage as well, as it is the prima facie rule that every supporting evidence should have the evidentiary value and it should be that conceivable that it can convince the Courts and in addition to this the foremost debatable aspect which arises in the veracity of forensic evidence is that, the Courts are not bound by it and they can confide in other evidence also.
The use of the private sector has decreased to a minimum in developed countries because their federal and state laboratories are completely equipped with resources, while in India, forensic laboratories must be developed to some degree to ensure the private sector’s involvement. ‘Forensic science,’ as it has been for years, is an elegant and utilitarian utility of the authorities concerned that completes the necessity of the trial system and satisfies the lay public.
Though the Union Home Ministry claims that it has placed in effect plenty of new steps to address the grave challenges faced by global terror by spending vast sums of money, there seems to be no progress in improving intelligence collection or focusing on the retooling of forensic science by the use of advanced technology and reforming management practices in the forensic science industry, but it is only highlighted and accepted when serious or contentious crimes arise, to appease the inquisitive and demanding media and public.Following the 26/11 attack, the Home Ministry formed a committee to develop a “Perspective Plan for Indian Forensics” and proclaimed “Year of Forensic Science.” The Ministry approved the board’s report, which was submitted in July 2010 nevertheless in India; forensic science is stagnant and stunted in comparison to other fields of science and is not being utilized by the law enforcement agencies and justice system with their investigation in its entirety.
According to a recent study conducted by the Apex Court and the High Court of Delhi, forensic evidence is used in only a small percentage of cases. Just about 5% of murder cases and 3% of rape cases have used DNA evidence. At an investigation agency level, it was the failure to submit evidence to the FSL on time, faulty sealing of samples and contamination of the same, samples forwarded without proper case details, and inability to collect key evidence.
Furthermore, the most essential aspect of medical jurisprudence is to turn doubt into a logical assurance of guilt or innocence, but courts had to rely on nonscientific evidence due to a lack of sufficient technology. In a report conducted by the Apex Court and the High Court, only 47 cases were found in which DNA played an important role. 23.4 per cent of these judgments were taken by the Delhi High Court itself. Moreover, only 4.7 per cent of homicide cases and 2.3 per cent of rape and murder cases used DNA evidence.
It is concluded that law and medical jurisprudence go conjointly to deliver justice. Expertise in forensic is a great asset to Courts while dealing with criminal cases. The ignorance of medico-legal aspects leads to inexpedient consequences. A recent survey revealed that there was a widespread frustration of forensic experts with the lack of scientific knowledge by lawyers. It is very inconceivable to note that only 14 – 15 universities in this vast country India offer forensic science education programs whereas in the USA there are more than 90 universities that offer the same.
Furthermore, as mentioned above one of the key aspects of forensic science is the collection of samples in cases of sexual offences then it is a prominent concept that sample shall not be contaminated or else it would be of no use, and many times it gets contaminated also because of lack of proficiency which forces the victim to suffer, moreover because of such insufficiency, there are many victims of different cases who suffer, that’s why selection in forensic labs shall be based upon merits so that it can work effectively without the interference of extraneous factors.
When about 30 scientists from the CFSLs were sent to the FBI laboratory in the United States to learn the latest forensic science techniques in less than a week, India became a laughing stock. This type of gimmick serves no useful purpose because no one can accomplish anything valuable in a week and it makes no valuable contribution towards the aid and administration of justice.
In today’s time, due to lack of evidence, the rate of conviction has been continuously reducing which can be reversed to some extent by the proper application of forensic evidence. For this reason, the colleges should include the subjects like medico-legal jurisprudence so that students can inculcate the knowledge and get well prepared to apply the same to their practice. The role of forensic science as a core contributor in the delivery of justice must be recognized by both the Bar and the Bench and decisions should be based mostly upon scientific methods as it denotes the fairness of the system which is the core ingredient of democracy.
The Courts should make sure that everybody in the judiciary should take the privilege of forensic science as it is more concrete than any other surmised evidence and we all should make sure to fill every loophole through this blessing and to support the conviction of every accused who is prosecuted for a plausible cause, as Justice Barkat Ali Zaidi said and Author quotes;
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