The Use ₰ Misuse of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Investigations.

From fingerprint analysis to DNA testing, the techniques of forensic applications have revolutionized the justice system.

August 14, 2023 

The Use ₰ Misuse of Forensic Evidence in  Criminal Investigations

 Forensic evidence has been crucial component in the field of  investigations for decades. It plays a very essential role in identifying  suspects, linking them to crime scenes, which aiding in the delivery of  Justice. From fingerprint analysis to DNA testing, the techniques of  forensic applications have revolutionized the justice system.  However, the reliance on forensic evidence is not without its  challenges. In recent years, concerns have arisen regarding its misuse and  the potential for wrongful conviction.

 The Role of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Investigations

 Forensic evidence includes a wide range of scientific disciplines, including  DNA analysis, fingerprinting, ballistics, toxicology, and more. These  techniques are aimed to link suspects to the crime scene, establish  timelines, reconstruct events, and identify potential motives. When  properly collected, analyzed, and interpreted, it can provide valuable  information for law enforcement and judicial systems.

 Advantages of Forensic Evidence

 One of the significant advantages of forensic evidence is its objectivity. It  relies on scientific principles and method. In addition, the use of such  evidence can strengthen the case against criminals, increase the  likelihood of obtaining convictions, and act as a deterrent against future  criminal behavior. 

The Misuse of Forensic Evidence

 Despite of its many advantages, forensic evidence is not infallible (not  liable to error) and it can also be misused during criminal investigations.  In such cases, forensic science practitioners provided misleading  testimony that exaggerated the connection between the crime scene  evidence and the person of interest. In other cases, its misuse can occur  due to several reason: –

 Inadequate Training and Resources: Insufficient training or lack of  resources in forensic laboratories can lead to errors in evidence collection,  analysis, and interpretation.

 Confirmation Bias: Investigators and analysts might unknowingly be  influenced by pre-existing beliefs about a case, leading to selective  interpretation of evidence. 

Inaccurate Techniques: Some forensic techniques, such as bite mark  analysis or hair comparison, lack scientific validity and have resulted in  wrongful convictions.

 Overstating Certainty: Experts presenting forensic evidence may  sometimes overstate the certainty of their conclusions, potentially  swaying juries.

 Contaminated sample: Improper handling, collection or storage of  evidence can result in contamination, compromising the accuracy of  forensic analysis which can again be misused by parties to the case.  

Some important case laws relating forensic evidences: – 

1. Mukesh and Another v. (NCT of Delhi) and Others, 2017

Facts: –

 The Appellants were convicted and sentenced to death for the gangrape  and murder of the prosecutrix. Along with other evidence, the  prosecution relied on DNA evidence to convict the appellants. While  confirming the conviction and sentence, the Supreme Court discussed the  importance of DNA evidence. 

Findings: –

 The Court held that a DNA report deserves to be accepted unless it is  absolutely dented. In case the DNA report is rejected, it must be  established that there had been no quality control or quality assurance. A DNA report should be accepted if there is no error in sampling and no  indication of tampering of samples.

 2. Shankaria v. State of Rajasthan, 1978 

Facts: –

 This case pertains to a double murder. The appellant was sentenced to  death by the Trial Court which was then confirmed by the High Court.  Moulds were prepared from the foot-prints of the suspected culprit and  matched with the footprints of the appellant. At trial, the expert testified  that the foot-mould of one of the bare footprints found at the scene of  crime tallied with the specimen left foot-mould of the appellant.

Findings: –

 On the point of the footprint evidence, the SC held that the science of  identification of foot-prints is not a developed science, and thus, it is not  sufficient for a conviction. However, it is a relevant circumstance which  can be taken into account along with the other evidence and may then  reinforce the conclusion on the identity of the culprit. 

3. Hariom and hero v. State of Uttar Pradesh,2021

Facts: –

 The case involved six accused who were convicted for dacoity and murder  of four individuals. Three of the convicted persons were acquitted by the  High Court while the sentence imposed on others which was primarily  based on fingerprint examination, which matched the latent prints found  on the items in the deceased’s house with exemplar prints of the  appellants.

Findings: –

 While dismissing the fingerprint evidence, the Supreme Court held that  the method applied for lifting latent prints from the items found in the  deceased’s house was not specified in the fingerprint report. The Court  also noted that the record does not show if the items from which the  latent prints were lifted were available for analysis by the Fingerprint  Bureau. Finally, the Supreme Court questioned the training, and  experience of the Constable who had lifted the latent prints. The Court  held that the report of the Fingerprint Bureau was unreliable. Even if the  fingerprint evidence was admitted, there was absence of substantive  evidence to link the Appellants to the crime. Considering this, the SC  acquitted the three Appellants.


 Forensic evidence plays a critical role in modern criminal investigations,  contributing significantly to the pursuit of justice and public safety.  However, its misuse can lead to grave consequences, damaging the  integrity of the justice system. By prioritizing rigorous training,  independent reviews, and standardized protocols, society can harness the  true potential of forensic evidence while safeguarding against wrongful  convictions and upholding the principles of justice.


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