Intersection of Forensic Science and the Indian Evidence Act

Author: Riteeka Labh, a Student of Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College, Pune.


Forensic science, the application of scientific principles and techniques to the investigation of crimes, plays a pivotal role in the Indian legal system. With advancements in technology and methodology, forensic science has become an indispensable tool for law enforcement agencies and courts in India. This article delves into the relationship between forensic science and the Indian Evidence Act, highlighting its significance, challenges, and recent developments.


Forensic science and Indian Evidence Act:

Forensic science encompasses various scientific disciplines such as DNA analysis, postmortem report, forensic psychology, and digital forensics. Each of these disciplines contributes to gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence crucial for solving crimes and establishing guilt or innocence in legal proceedings. On the other hand, The Indian Evidence Act, enacted in 1872, governs the admissibility of evidence in Indian courts. It lays down rules and procedures for the collection, presentation, and evaluation of evidence during trials. The Act aims to ensure fairness, reliability, and efficiency in the judicial process while upholding the principles of justice.

Role and admissibility of Forensic Science in Legal Proceedings:

Forensic evidence holds significant weight in courtrooms, often serving as a cornerstone in criminal investigations and trials. From identifying suspects through DNA profiling to analyzing fingerprints and bullet trajectories, forensic science provides objective and scientific means to establish facts and refute or corroborate testimonial evidence.

While forensic evidence is highly valued in courtrooms, its admissibility is subject to scrutiny under the Indian Evidence Act. Section 45 of the Act provides for the opinion of experts on scientific subjects, including forensic evidence. However, such opinions must be based on facts and reliable principles to be admissible in court.

Narco- Analysis:

Narco-Analysis directs towards psycho analysis, through drugs. In this process, the suspect is put into a state of hypnotism by certain chemical tests, to bring out facts in his sub- conscious mind. To obtain the sub- conscious state sodium pentothal/sodium Amytal is injected into the body and questions are directed to the person. The drugs are also known as ‘truth serum’ but the extent of truthfulness is a debatable issue. The person goes into a stage of sub consciousness and his reasoning abilities turn ineffective, so he cannot decide what has to be revealed and what not. The test is based on the principle that a person can lie by using his imagination and making facts, by using drugs his capacity to lie is restricted and the answers remain limited to what he knows.

Such processes are criticized by some as being against the idea of Fundamental rights to life and personal liberty, freedom of speech and expression, Right against self- incrimination among other tenets of the Constitution. It is surrounded by various issues relating to its validity and admissibility in the court.

Involuntary vs. Voluntary Narco Analysis:

The Supreme court in the 2010 made it clear that the test results of involuntary techniques cannot be admitted as evidence. However, it clarified that any information discovered through “voluntary administered test results” can be admitted in evidence, according to Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act.

DNA fingerprinting:

DNA fingerprinting, a revolutionary scientific technique, has been integrated into the fabric of the Indian legal system through amendments to the Indian Evidence Act. This landmark inclusion acknowledges DNA evidence as a crucial tool in criminal investigations and court proceedings. By leveraging the unique genetic markers present in every individual’s DNA, law enforcement agencies and courts can accurately establish identities, link suspects to crime scenes, and conclusively prove or disprove relationships between individuals.

The introduction of DNA fingerprinting in the Indian Evidence Act marks a significant milestone in the country’s quest for justice. This advanced forensic tool has bolstered the efficacy of criminal investigations, leading to more accurate determinations of guilt or innocence. Moreover, it has helped in overturning wrongful convictions and preventing miscarriages of justice.

By embracing DNA fingerprinting, India demonstrates its commitment to leveraging cutting-edge technologies to uphold the rule of law and ensure fairness in the legal process. The use of DNA evidence has not only strengthened the prosecution’s case but has also provided a scientific basis for delivering justice, thereby enhancing public trust in the legal system. As technology continues to advance, DNA fingerprinting is poised to play an increasingly pivotal role in safeguarding justice and truth in India.

Brain fingerprinting technique:

Brain fingerprinting is a forensic technique that uses Electroencephalography (EEG)  to detect unique brainwave patterns that correspond to specific memories or knowledge. This technique is used to obtain information regarding the knowledge of crime and events from the suspect.

To crack the 2006 Malegaon bomb blast case, NIA used the brain mapping technique.

Post Mortem:

Sometimes, a planned death occurs in an unintended way, or an accidental death happens in an unlikely manner. These scenarios can arise due to intervening physical events or third-party involvement, which might introduce superseding factors causing separate fatal injuries. Additionally, pre-existing medical conditions in the victim can obscure the primary cause of death. Criminal causation issues arise when a crime is defined by the outcome of an action. Hence, determining causation is crucial in homicide cases where individuals act with sufficient mens rea and cause death through their actions. Prosecutors in homicide cases must evaluate the cause and manner of death to determine if the accused’s actions legally caused the death. Medical evidence is crucial in establishing the cause of death, with medical examiners conducting both external and internal examinations of the victim’s body. Their findings can be critical in criminal cases involving death causation. The cause of death refers to any injury or disease leading to a physiological abnormality resulting in death, while the manner of death explains how the death occurred based on case circumstances and post-mortem examination findings.

Medico-legal Post Mortem:

In forensic pathology, a post-mortem examination, known as an autopsy, aims to determine the cause and manner of death. There are two types of autopsies: medico-legal and clinical. A medico-legal autopsy is performed to provide valuable evidence for legal purposes. Most countries mandate an autopsy if a person dies under suspicious circumstances, such as without recent medical supervision to attest to a natural cause of death, or if there is a suspected disease threatening public health. In such cases, the state requires an autopsy without needing the deceased’s relatives’ permission. If homicide is suspected, the autopsy is essential to establish the cause of death, determine whether the findings support the suspected crime, and provide evidence about how, when, and where the crime might have occurred.

Post Mortem Report:

Upon completing the process, the forensic surgeon prepares a detailed report clearly and specifically stating the cause and manner of death. Prosecutors routinely use these reports in trials to support medical testimony and understand the evidence of other witnesses and material objects involved in the crime. The report also includes the surgeon’s opinion about the possible weapon used and the cause and manner of death.

Challenges in Forensic Science and Legal Proceedings:

Despite its importance, forensic science faces various challenges in the Indian context. These include inadequate infrastructure, shortage of trained personnel, lack of standardized protocols, and issues related to the collection and preservation of evidence. Additionally, the interpretation of forensic findings by courts and the reliability of certain forensic techniques have been subjects of debate and controversy.

Recent Developments and Advances:

In recent years, efforts have been made to address the challenges facing forensic science in India. The establishment of forensic laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art technology, training programs for forensic experts, and the adoption of international best practices have enhanced the quality and reliability of forensic evidence. Moreover, the use of digital forensics in cybercrime investigations and the introduction of advanced DNA profiling techniques have revolutionized forensic science in India.

Landmark Cases:

Several landmark cases in India have underscored the importance of forensic evidence in legal proceedings:

  • Tandoor Murder Case (1995) Delhi

This was the first criminal case in India to be solved using forensic science. In this case, Shusil Sharma murdered his wife, Naina Sahni, at home by firing three gunshots into her body, suspecting she was having an affair with Matloob Karim, a classmate and fellow congressman. 

After the murder, Sharma transported his wife’s body to the Bagiya restaurant, where he and the restaurant manager, Keshav Kumar, attempted to dispose of it by burning it in a tandoor. The police confiscated Sharma’s revolver and blood-stained clothes, sending them to the Lodhi Road forensic laboratory. They also collected blood samples from Sahni’s parents, Harbhajan Singh and Jaswant Kaur, and sent them to Hyderabad for a DNA test. 

The lab report stated that the burned body is that of Naina Sahni, who is the biological offspring of Mr. Harbhajan Singh and Jaswant Kaur, confirming the body’s identity. With the forensic evidence, Shusil Sharma was found guilty.

  • Vasu v. Santha (1975) Kerala

The court has set certain standards for the admissibility of DNA tests:

  1. Courts in India cannot routinely mandate blood tests;
  2. Applications for such petitions aimed at conducting a speculative inquiry through blood tests cannot be accepted.
  3. To counter the presumption under Section 112 of the Evidence Act, the husband must provide strong prima facie evidence of non-access.
  4. The court must carefully weigh the implications of conducting a blood test, considering whether it will stigmatize the child and label the mother as unchaste.
  5. No one can be compelled to provide a blood sample for testing. Additionally, the court highlighted that blood-grouping tests are valuable in resolving paternity disputes. These tests can serve as circumstantial evidence in court, potentially excluding an individual as the child’s father. However, it is crucial to emphasize that providing a blood sample for analysis is entirely voluntary, and refusing to do so should not lead to any negative repercussions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Is forensic evidence admissible in Indian courts?

Ans. In our nation, determining the admissibility of evidence is a complex issue. The consistency of forensic evidence reliability is subject to the court’s discretion, leading to inconsistency over time. A fundamental challenge in law regarding the admissibility of forensic evidence is the absence of explicit guidelines in the Indian Evidence Act regarding court procedures for evaluating such evidence.

Q. Which sections govern the forensic evidence in Indian Evidence Act?

Ans. Section 45 of the Act stipulates that testimony from an individual recognized as an expert in a specific field should be deemed relevant. Similarly, Section 51 states that evidence becomes relevant when provided by an expert in the relevant subject. Apart from these provisions, the legislature has not established rules addressing the admissibility and reliability assessment of forensic evidence.


Forensic science and the Indian Evidence Act are intertwined in the pursuit of justice and truth. While forensic evidence provides valuable insights into criminal investigations, its admissibility and interpretation in courtrooms are governed by the principles laid down in the Indian Evidence Act. As technology continues to evolve and forensic science advances, it is imperative to ensure that the legal framework keeps pace with these developments to uphold the integrity of the judicial process and safeguard the rights of all individuals involved in legal proceedings.

Intersection of Forensic Science and the Indian Evidence Act

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