By Dr. Muhammad Imran Mahmood Khan
The aim of science traditionally, is to search out the ways to reach the truth while the aim of law is the resolution of human conflicts. Thus science and law have different aims and use different methods but the combination of both has revolutionized the investigation tools for crimes. However, both have limitations as the law requires truth within the context of the legal merits while science requires the validated technology and unanimity among theorist to extract the truth.
Throughout history, evidence has been used to convict the criminals for the crimes they have committed. Fortunately, the advancement of scientific knowledge and technology has enabled its extensive use in criminal investigation. Through scientific evidence traces left on the crime scene by criminal can be used to trace them. The field of science dealing with criminal investigation is known as forensic science, which roughly means the application of science for the court of law. If the evidence is collected properly without any contamination then the forensic science can help to deduce plenty of information. The people who need to learn the methods of collecting the evidence for forensic science analysis are those from law enforcement agencies encountering the crime scenes frequently. Unfortunately this person is an officer from a police department, which is ignorant of the significance of evidence collection.
Orenthal James Simpson (1994) case is one of the exemplary cases emphasizing the need for proper collection of evidence. It was the homicide of Nicole Brown Simpson (Ex-wife of O. J. Simpson) and Ronal Goldman. This murder case is known as “the case of century” because of high level of public interest. The Orenthal James Simpson became the chief suspect of the murder investigation by the Los Angeles police. Nearly 100 pieces of biological evidence (blood spots) including blood stained socks and bloody gloves were collected from crime scene. In addition to the Orenthal James Simpson, the DNA profile of one of the detective was obtained from most of the evidence. Thus the evidence was found to be contaminated but the defense argued for the in-conclusiveness, fabrication and implantation of evidence, as a result Orenthal James Simpson was acquitted.
DNA testing has become a key tool to resolve crimes that include but not limited to Homicide/Murder/Suicide, Physical assault, rape/ other sexual assaults, theft, burglary / robbery, hit and run cases / accidents, dead body identification, disaster victim identification, bomb blast / terrorism, paternity/kinship/sib ship analysis. However the DNA testing is mostly used in rape and in homicide prosecution. Empirical examination of trial court records revealed the unavailability of physical evidence in many cases. Apparently many victims especially minors, do not immediately report the rape out of fear and shame. This is further compounded by the absence of guidelines for the proper collection and storage of collected evidence in local health and police units. Theoretically, the chance of isolating biological material is much higher in sexual assault cases compared to other crimes due to the direct physical contact; hence transfer of biological material, between assailant and victim. In fact, the best biological samples that may be used as DNA evidence are those obtained from the victim and her clothing worn at the time of the assault. Sperm DNA is generally stable up to 72 hours in the female reproductive organs, provided that the victim does not bathe or wash during this time period. The unrealized potential of using forensic DNA technology in accelerating criminal investigations in the Pakistan is great. Thus the proper collection and subsequent laboratory analysis of samples, in particular vaginal swabs can facilitate the identification of the real offenders. Clearly if DNA analysis could be carried out on all the probative samples, then the identification of real suspects or exclusion of individuals would undoubtedly accelerate the criminal investigations of these cases.
The efficacy of DNA evidence to resolve crimes is well recognized in the US, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, UK and other countries. However, the routine use of forensic DNA analysis on probative evidence items properly packed and transported to the laboratory in criminal cases has yet to be entirely adopted in the Pakistan. The development of DNA testing services has been providing a remarkable opportunity to improve criminal justice system. Furthermore the availability of forensic DNA technology in the Pakistan necessitates the amendment of current rules of evidence admissibility to incorporate scientific advances which enables the judiciary to better appreciate the value of physical evidence in criminal courts.