Bombay High Court halts purchase of hi-tech rapid DNA analysis system

Mumbai: Bombay HC has asked the Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratory (DFSL) to put on hold the procurement of a Rs 3 crore, state-of-the-art Rapid DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) Analysis System, after some experts filed a petition in the Bombay High Court (HC), claiming the hi-tech system did not give accurate results.

The DFSL had planned to purchase a fully automated hi-tech system, which it claimed would speed up the process of sample analysis. Dr Krishna Kulkarni, director of DFSL, said, “Currently, it takes a nearly eight days to analyse the DNA samples. This delays the investigations and there is trouble in gathering evidence. Every month, we get at least 25-30 unclaimed bodies, most of them in a decomposed state.”

Dr Kulkarni said, since it takes nearly eight days to analyse the DNA samples, they had approached the state government to sanction the proposal of procuring a fully automated DNA sampling machine. “Had this proposal been approved, it would have decreased our workload and the results could have been obtained in two hours,” he said. This machine could have stored one million DNA profiling in its database, Dr Kulkarni said.

Currently, FSL has over a million DNA profiling in its database and they keep it in cold storage.  But a few experts claimed the device would not give accurate results, following which a petition was filed in the Bombay High Court in July. “We did not receive good response from experts on the hi-tech system. Some of them claim the system does not give accurate results. Considering which, a petition was filed at Bombay High Court against the proposed purchase. A few months ago, the court ordered us to hold the purchase,” said Dr Kulkarni.

Dr Harish Pathak, professor and head of the department of forensic medicine and toxicology, KEM Hospital, said procuring the high-tech system would have helped identify unknown bodies in cases of natural disaster. “During such situations, we are dependent on DNA analysis, but this process takes time. With this system, it would have helped to get accurate data, with no human involvement.”

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