Growing Relevance of Forensic Science

BY LALITHA VAIDYANATHAN
FORENSIC science which was earlier confined to the state and central governments laboratories solving post event of the various types of crimes dealt by police departments and courts in India has seen a radical expansion.

In today’s age, forensic science has no longer been just a science related to law and criminals for solving post-event crimes, it has moved far above the realm and has entered into the day-to-day life of a common man.
Forensic science through different aspects not only emphasise the key role it plays in opening various avenues but also benefits the improved and regulated disciplines: assisting law enforcement officials, enhancing homeland security, reducing the risk of wrongful conviction and above all safeguarding and teaching people scientific and legal aspect pertaining to their domain.
Today with technological advancement, it has opened up new avenues of solving the white-collar crimes relating to huge financial scandals as well as family disputes on land and property fraud in both rural and urban India through private sector hi-tech institution as well.
India and Forensic Science 
The technologies can also prevent fraud or cheating of several government schemes in rural and urban India including those meant for people below poverty line.
Forensic science has come a long way in India and it has already proved its changing role just from detection of normal and petty crimes to bomb blasts to preventive social evils like cheating and fraud on a large scale and with tailor-made modes.
The new areas of public domain like bank, insurance, ATM frauds, handwriting forgery or family disputes, including the DNA fingerprinting, in establishing the biological father or mother to cheating and others all call for use of high-end crime detection technologies, according to experts in the field.
Realising the huge need for technically trained human resource for this field of forensic science in the country, both Maharashtra and Gujarat governments have started focused graduation course as well as advanced research based MSC and Phd programmes in forensic science in addition to the earlier classical forensic teaching departments in some universities.
Forensic science is based on the theory of transfer; that is  when two objects meet, some evidence of that meeting generally can be established and verified at a later time. Fingerprints left inside a burgled house, shoe prints outside a window, thousands of examples of the minute bits of evidence found at a crime scene that are later used to incriminate, associate, establish, or convict.
With the advent of DNA profiling, these bits of evidence keep getting smaller and smaller, the point that a link between suspect and crime can be made with as many as one skin cell or a nano particle, Dr Rukmani Krishnamurthy, an expert, said.
The ability of forensic experts to detect evidence is continually improving, and many court cases rely on it, Dr Krishnamurthy pointed out.
HELIK Advisory Ltd., an ISO certified premier organisation in the field of forensic and allied sciences, has come up with an innovative combination of forensic solutions and technologies for the corporate houses, medium/small scale enterprises, institutions, entrepreneurs, businesses, judiciary, police, defence and individuals there by taking forensic science to common man in the form of preventive, social, civil and rural forensics.
The very concept of these innovative services were conceived and imbibed keeping in mind the standard practices of forensic and allied sciences in developed countries, where high-grade private research institutes are the main source for providing forensic and allied services to the potential clients including law enforcement agencies and judiciary.
Until recently, DNA analysis had been used in serious criminal cases like murder, genocide, rape, terrorism. Since advances have streamlined DNA procedures and cut their costs, currently they are being used increasingly to investigate other offences like hit-and-run, burglary, robbery and white-collar crimes.
Advances have also been achieved in many areas of forensic science such as fingerprints. Technology also has improved in the ability to detect latent fingerprints, which are among the most valuable types of physical evidence in criminal investigations. There are many chemical and physical methods for detecting and visualising latent prints at a crime scene.
Advance technology in instrumentation and illumination to enhance latent prints which includes argon laser, x-ray detection, vacuum coating and various light sources including the nano-particles for development and analysis of latent finger marks.
Data mining of databases such as combined DNA index system  and the automated fingerprint identification systems  at par with the FBI is useful not only for criminal record but also for handling civilian record, Dr Krishnamurthy said.
Video analytics, image enhancement technologies to read clues such as fingerprints, footprints and bite marks, multi-modal biometric systems and psychological tools for both criminal and individual assessment in terms of behaviour are some of the technologies which find its way to India soon.
The latent print examiners routinely processed and compare latent fingerprints and / or palm prints card of a suspect. Due to advances in processing techniques examiners are very successful in developing latent prints on paper which account to for 95 per cent of the evidence which they process.
The use of new techniques has enabled the development of previously undetectable prints. Besides paper evidence, the unit also processes other types of evidence including weapons, glassware, metal, computer equipment (including monitors, keyboards), leather goods and plastic 1tems.
Techniques Used  in India
The unit also offers a variety of services in support of field operations. Black and white and C41 colour processors enable the photographers to process large qualities of film. These are used in the processing of large quantities of surveillance film submitted by the special agents from across the country.
Some of the abovementioned techniques like DNA fingerprinting, digital image enhancement, tape authentification, voice analysis, cyber forensic, lie detector, BEOS, etc are in place in major state and central government FSLs but do not have the manpower to handle the large volume of cases and hence they are looking for outsourcing to private forensic labs with good credentials.
Photographic Hi-Tech equipment to analyse the fake documentation are of great value in the present stamp markings and photocopies. The Helik  has been successful in the construction of damaged documents including shredded and burnt documents. This unit also examines documents which may have erasures  or other types of alterations.
International conferences on forensic science showcased some of the latest advances in forensic science including DNA analysis which unlocks mysteries of human identity, combining advances in miniaturisation and microchip technologies with well-established techniques of forensic DNA analysis. The fusion of these technologies could revolutionise DNA typing. PTI Feature
The Helik Advisory also provides services to common people that include cyber and mobile device forensic services, voice and video solutions, data recovery services, advanced email and Internet history examination, information security devices and other cost-effective and timely solutions.