Very often considered only a scientific jargon that eventually lands the bad guys in jail, forensic science is soon gaining due importance on the criminal investigation scene in India. With the advent of private firms and courses offered by various universities, forensics is finally ceasing to being only an abstract science employed by detectives on crime shows.
Forensic science essentially deals with the application of scientific principles to crime investigation. Forensic scientists analyze ‘clues’ at a crime scene and present them as admissible evidences before the court of law. With the crime rate steadily increasing across the nation, the need for forensic scientists is on the rise. Furthermore, with the investigation of a number of cases such as the high profile Scarlett Keeling murder case going awry and the massive backlog that the Indian judiciary faces, there is a dire need not only to reform the manner in which forensic investigations are conducted, but also revamp the state of forensic sciences so as to expedite the judicial process. Advances in basic and applied sciences have to be utilized for the development of forensic science. Forensic labs cannot be run on the shoe-string budgets; they require sizable investment commensurate with the population and crime rate in a country/ region. We need to run forensic laboratories professionally on a sound scientific basis with an integrated organizational structure with complete coordination between various disciplines of the stream in a meaningful manner.
However, though forensic sciences has been a much neglected area till date with lack of adequate resources, funds, and infrastructure contributing to the poor quality of forensic labs in the country, this scenario is fast changing. Privatization has encouraged healthy competition between private firms and government bodies conducting forensic research and analysis. Both parties strive hard to achieve better results thus ensuring that cases are solved faster and more accurately. Forensic science is of tremendous importance in solving both high profile as well as ordinary cases. Unfortunately, we rely tremendously on man power and though we do have the technology to solve crimes at a faster rate we lack the expertise do so. Keeping this in mind, efforts are constantly being made to strengthen its level of involvement in crime investigation. Over the last year and a half, the forensic science scenario in India has improved drastically. Earlier we would have to send tests like brain mapping and narco analysis to labs in Bangalore and Chandigarh of India. However, now we conduct all tests in the Kalina lab (Mumbai) itself.
The field offers an array of opportunities in various subfields including forensic toxicology, forensic serology, cyber forensics, forensic law, forensic psychology, white collar crimes, art forgeries, and wild life forensics. Although a basic knowledge in science is instrumental for entry into this field, forensics does not in any way limit itself to any particular discipline. Unlike popular notion forensic science is not limited to lab work. This stream is a melting pot of all disciplines. Every year, apart from science students, we have students from the fields of law, commerce, psychology, finance, and even computers enrolling into the course. Just like crime isn’t restricted to a particular field, neither is its investigation.
To be absorbed into the job market as a lab assistant right after graduation, candidates preferably need to have a first class degree in physics, chemistry, zoology, biochemistry, microbiology, botany or applied science. A lab assistant is required to analyze sample retrieved from the crime scene. Alternatively, graduates also have the option to work as assistant wit lawyers to work as assistants with lawyers and pharmaceutical companies. As in any other field a master’s degree provides more scope for professional practice. Graduates can either start private consultations or even work with the police force after satisfying the prescribed requisites.
An increasing trend these days is to take up forensic science after gaining considerable amount of expertise in a particular field. This stream however, also demands requisites beyond pure academics. This profession is not meant for mediocre and run of the mill students. Any one who is interested in pursuing a career in this field should be highly knowledgeable, Industrious, and zealous with an enquiring mind, lot of common sense and logic. Additionally, it is crucial that students take up this profession by choice of a difficult, demanding career rather than an alternative or last option for education / employment.
Interested students can either pursue a master’s or a diploma in forensic sciences offered at a various institutes across the country:
1) St Xavier’s College, Mumbai
2) Jitendra Chauhan College of Law, Mumbai (Vile Parle)
3) Allahabad University
4) Bundelkhand University
5) Chennai University
6) Osmania University