Hyderabad: One of the prime reasons leading to low convictions in rape cases filed under Section 376 of IPC is the faulty collection of DNA samples from victims by the hospital authorities. The faulty DNA collection methods has led to the accused getting acquitted as the police are unable to provide enough evidence to support the allegations.
SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence) Kits designed by the National Health Mission serves as evidence collection kits sanctioned under the Violence Against Women Act.
Provided by the state, these kits consist of a checklist of evidence that must be collected from the victim. The evidence is in the form of blood and semen. During this collection of DNA if the medical staff do not follow the strict guidelines, the samples collected may become contaminated. These contaminated samples cannot be used as evidence in courts and results in acquittals. Such is the case that in 2016, although the Telangana police reported nearly 1,278 cases of rape, as reported by the National Crime Records Bureau, only a small number resulted in convictions.
Speaking to this newspaper about the process of investigation, ACP Narmada from the SHE teams said that in an incident of rape or sexual assault reports, they directed the victims to hospitals immediately where the necessary forensic measurements were taken to collect samples of blood or semen.
“At the hospital, the duty doctor takes the swabs required and they further send the samples for testing to the Forensic Science Laboratory for testing,” she said.
Furthermore, Dr Madhusudan Reddy, staff scientist and CODIS Administrator of CDFD, said that though they received samples from sexual abuse or rape victims for testing, however, it was rarely the case that the kits were being utilized in the right format and the results varied due to cross contamination.
“Medical professionals can be trained to learn the art of collection and there is the need for intervention. In such cases, we can provide results but it is still a question if it will gain a conviction,” he said....