The Delhi High Court has observed that delay in getting forensic science laboratory reports (FSL) leads to extreme suffering by the victim's family where the cause of death is unknown and also may lead to degradation of samples.

Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta was hearing a plea of the father of the deceased son who was only 14 years old at the time of his death. The father had prayed before the Court to direct Respondents 1 to 4 (State of NCT of Delhi & Ors.) for speedy/professional investigation in respect of the death of the son under suspicious circumstances.

It was also prayed to direct the Respondents to send the heart and brain of the deceased son for investigation/histopathological report and for expediting the Viscera report from FSL for the purpose of a fair investigation into the death of the son of the Petitioner.

ASC Anmol Sinha appeared for the Respondents while Counsel Niraj Kumar appeared for the father-Petitioner before the High Court.

ASC argued before the Court that no suspicious circumstances were found regarding the death of the deceased, who had visited PVR along with his friends on November 10, 2021, and was admitted to Makkar hospital initially. Further the deceased was shifted to Max hospital wherein the doctors declared him brought dead.

Further, it was also contended that Viscera result has since been received from FSL along with the report of histopathology samples and on the basis of same, the cause of death has been opined 'cerebral vascular attack - a natural cause of death.'

The Court observed, "The delay in getting the scientific reports not only has a high social cost, but leads to extreme suffering by victim's family being unaware as to the exact cause of death. The delay for whatever reason cannot be countenanced under law and at times may also lead to degradation or putrefaction of the samples negating the very purpose of examination."

Further, the Court also held that the non-acceptance of samples/ exhibits for histopathological examination at the concerned hospital is an administrative issue which needs to be streamlined/sorted by the investigating agency.

The Court held that necessary steps were required to be taken by the Commissioner of Police in coordination with the concerned hospital.

The Bench also noted that Standing Order No. No. 444/2016 issued by the Commission of Police, Delhi which contains instructions as to how the police would proceed after the registration of FIR till the filing of the chargesheet and also lists checks by the superior authority in this regard.

The instructions include – The guidelines prescribe for speedy investigation of the cases and meticulous compliance in relation to the deposit of all relevant exhibits/documents for examination with the Forensic Science Laboratory as early as possible within 7 days from the date of its collection.

Instruction 8 in this regard, further provides that if the opinion from the FSL is not received within a reasonable time frame, IO/SHO shall bring the matter to the notice of the concerned DCP, so that the matter can be taken up with the FSL Authority.

ACPs as well as DCPs are also required to check and monitor that the investigation of the case is being promptly and fairly conducted by the Investigating Officers in an endeavor to complete the same in a time-bound manner.

The aforesaid instructions alongwith other relevant guidelines are for the purpose of ensuring that the investigation/inquiry is concluded at the earliest and the final report is filed in accordance with law. No excuse by the investigating agency either on the ground of ignorance or administrative issue is acceptable as Standing Order No.444/2016 dated 21.06.2016 is expected to be followed in letter and spirit to ensure a fair, transparent, and speedy investigation.

The Court also observed, "Unfortunately there is an inordinate delay in forwarding the histopathological reports in the present case despite numerous representations by the petitioner to various authorities. The investigating agency is expected to ensure that rights of victims are duly safeguarded by conduct of speedy and fair investigation in accordance with law and resolve administrative bottlenecks, if any, at the level of DCP concerned at the earliest opportunity."

Accordingly, the Court disposed of the Petition with a direction that the relevant Standing Order /circulars are circulated by the Commissioner of Police to the concerned SHOs/Investigating Officers for the purpose of completing the investigation within the stipulated time frame as provided in law and responsibility is fixed in case of any inordinate delay by the Investigating Officer.

Cause Title - Shri Manoj Kumar Garg v. State of NCT of Delhi & Ors.

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