Forensic Science Laboratory
The Kerala State Forensic Science laboratory was established in 1961 at the Medical College Building, Thiruvananthapuram Dr. Thangavelu, the then Principal of Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram was the first Honorary Director of the laboratory. The lab was started with a Physics division which performed mainly the examination of questioned documents. Earlier, Kerala Police had a Document Bureau and in fact this formed the nucleus of the State FSL later. A Chemistry division was added in 1967 and a Biology division in 1972. Sri. E. Eswaran Potty was appointed as the first full time Director of the laboratory in 1973. A separate Documents division was established in 1978. The new laboratory building was constructed in the premises of Police Headquarters, Thiruvananthapuram in 1975 and shifted to the present location. Since then the lab has grown and acquired the latest gadgets for case examination.
At present, the laboratory consists of Headquarters lab situated in Police Head Quarters, Thiruvananthapuram and two fully functional Regional Forensic Science Labs at Thrissur and Kannur. There are Nineteen District Mobile Forensic Labs(DMFL) in all Police Districts. One new Regional FSL at Kochi has been sanctioned and is about to start its functioning. The Headquarters lab at Thiruvananthapuram consists of eleven divisions such as Physics, Ballistics, Biology, Serology, DNA, Documents, Documents- Civil, Cyber, Chemistry, Explosives and Polygraph divisions. RFSLs have four major divisions such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Documents.
Roles and Responsibilities
The role of Forensic Science Laboratory in crime investigation lies in a three phased manner
Examination of Scene of Crime
For examination of crime scenes, the laboratory had set up Nineteen District Mobile Forensic Laboratories (DMFL) with a Scientific Assistant in each unit. These experts as well as those from the laboratory examine the various crime scenes for location, collection and forwarding of physical evidences without loosing its evidentiary value to the Lab for examination through the Investigating Officer. The physical evidences will be later forwarded to the laboratory through the concerned court of law. They also advise the Investigating officers in scientific investigation of the evidences collected and other related matter. The timely examination of crime scenes gives the investigators an upper hand in collecting all the scientific evidences from the Crime Scene itself which gives valuable clues on the perpetrators of the crime.
Examination of the Material Objects.
The Material Objects or the “Physical Clues” collected from the scene of crime or other related objects collected by the Investigating Officer or Police Surgeon which are received in the laboratory will be examined scientifically in the state- of-the-art Forensic Lab set up by Kerala Police. All the Scientific gadgets required for examination have been acquired utilizing the funds under XI FCA award and various MoPF Schemes. Realizing the need and importance for providing accurate forensic reports, the Department had acquired all latest equipment for case examination.
Evidence in the Court of Law
The experts who examined the crime scenes as well as Material Objects in the lab will render scientific evidences as ‘ scientific experts ’ before the court of law justifying the findings beyond any reasonable doubt for dispensation of justice.
Good work done by Forensic Science Lab
Forensic Science Lab is instrumental in the detection and conviction of many sensational cases in the State since its inception. In many cases various courts had appreciated the evidences tendered by our experts. In the past, FSL played a pivotal role in detection and successful trial of the infamous liquor tragedy cases, mark list cases, train accidents. Many cases may be still under process in various courts, they are not detailed since matter may become ‘subjudice’
Different disciplines of FSL
The Biology division of FSL undertakes mainly the examination of saliva, semen and other body fluids. Hairs, fibers, plant materials, diatoms are also examined here. The skull superimposition test as to ascertain whether the skull actually belongs to the person in the photograph is also done in this division. Computerised skull superimposition system, Fluorescent microscope and Forensic image analyzer are the main equipment available in the division.
The human DNA profiling of samples are done in the DNA division. Testing of paternity of child in cases of disputed paternity, identification of deceased person from their biological remains like bones, teeth etc. identification of assailant in cases of sexual assault, murder etc. are some of the major works conducted in the DNA division. The equipment in DNA Lab includes Genetic Analyser 3130, Real Time PCR 9700, PCR machines, ultra low freezers, microcentifuges, Julabo shaking water bath etc.
The Serology division undertakes the examination of grouping of blood, semen, saliva etc.
The Chemistry division can examine the Narcotic and psychotropic substances, arson and fire residues, petrol, diesel, kerosene to detect adulteration, detection of metals, alloys etc. The Chemistry division is equipped with UV -spectrophotometer, Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS), Detailed Hydrocarbon Analyser, GC with Headspace, Mini flash point Apparatus, Mini distillation unit and Microwave digester.
The Explosive division of FSL is equipped for the examination of remnants, residues and components of explosives to determine the nature, composition, damage potential etc. The division is equipped with High Precision Thin Layer chromatograph (HPTLC), High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC), U.V Spectrophotometer etc.
The Document division undertakes the examination of disputed handwritings and signatures, detection of erasures, alterations, additions, examination of typewriting, printed matters and seal impressions etc and also the examination of counterfeit currency and forged dollars. The VSC-5000, ESDA and Zoom Stereo microscope are the main equipments.
A Cyber Forensic division has been started to extract information and data from computer, Mobile Phone and other storage media. The cyber lab is equipped with tools such as FRED, Talon, Cellebrite, FREDDIE, Cell Deck and other hardware and software for the analysis of digital data for the analysis of Hard discs, pen drives, mobile phones, iphones, ipads etc. The analysis of SIM cards, Memory cards and mobile phones provide valuable information to solve many crimes.
The Physics division undertake the examination of erased/ tampered engine and chassis numbers of vehicles, glass fracture studies and examination of glass pieces, paint flakes, tyre marks, tool marks, spurious articles etc. The division is equipped with Forensic Raman Analyser, EDXRF, Zoom stereo microscope etc. An Audio-Video lab has also been setup recently for audio authentication and video analysis.
The Ballistics division undertakes the examination of firearms, cartridges, cartridge cases, bullets, pellets/wads etc. The division has Leica Forensic Comparison Microscope, Zoom Stereo Microscope and Projectile Velocity Measurement system.
The Polygraph division examines persons (suspect, witness/ complainant) to ascertain whether the statement given by them are true or not. The polygraph examination of persons are carried out in accordance with the NHRC guidelines.