Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on Friday said there was no forensic analysis in 13,000 rape cases every year as the country’s laboratories lacked the capacity.
“We have found that the weakest part of crime detection is forensic,” she said while announcing a plan to strengthen the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Chandigarh. Her ministry and the Home Ministry are starting with the CFSL in Chandigarh on improvement of labs across the country, she said.
Money from the Nirbhaya Fund, named after a Delhi rape victim, has been granted for increasing its capacity.
“I was shocked to learn that the premier forensic laboratory carries out analysis of less than 160 cases a year,” she added.
“Forensic labs in the whole country do not conduct analysis of 13,000 out of 16,000 rape cases each year. They conduct analysis of just 3,000 cases,” she said.
The capacity of CFSL Chandigarh will be raised from 165 to 2,000 cases in a year, the minister said.
Maneka also said five more forensic labs would come up in Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Bhopal and Guwahati, raising the capacity of labs across the country to handle 50,000 rape cases a year.
She added the collection of evidence was important to enable courts to deliver quicker verdicts in rape cases.
Maneka Gandhi was in Chandigarh to lay a foundation stone for the Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory. She said her ministry will soon come out with a kit for police stations and hospitals for the collection of evidence like blood and semen samples in rape cases.
The kits will contain instructions on the evidence that needs to be collected from the crime scene. The kit with the samples will then be locked and sent to the forensic laboratory. It will mention the time when it was sealed and the names of the police officer and the doctor involved in the case.
The Union Minister said the rape kits, for which the money will come from the Nirbhaya Fund, will be available by July-end at every police station.
She also added that there was zero tolerance in the government on attacks on women. Maneka said after the Kathua case in Jammu and Kashmir where a minor was allegedly raped and killed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a cabinet meeting which approved an ordinance enabling death penalty for such attacks on children below 12 years.
She said her ministry has set up 193 one-stop centres, called Sakhi, for women who are afraid to go the police station for lodging a complaint of domestic violence or rape. The centres will come up in every district, she said. Women will get the services of a lawyer, a doctor, a nurse and a psychologist there.
Gandhi said trials were on in Uttar Pradesh for smartphones with a ‘panic button’.
On Non Resident Indians abandoning their wives, the minister said the government was working on ensuring registration of NRI marriages within 48 hours. Then the registrar would have to send the information to her ministry for creating a database. There was also a proposal to send court summons through an External Affairs Ministry portal to NRIs who abandon their wives, she said.
The summons put up there will be deemed as served. Under the proposal, if the NRI still does not appear in court, his family property will be put in an escrow account until he returns and resolves the issue. She said if a woman fears that her NRI husband might leave her, she could write to her ministry.
A committee of three joint secretaries will decide whether that NRI can be stopped from going abroad, she added.