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Courts cold-shoulder DNA evidence

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, JUL 27

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) reports are not fully accepted by most courts in the country though the system was accepted worldwide 25 years ago. Courts say they need one more mechanism to ensure the validity of DNA reports. Technical experts say courts are reluctant to accept proven technology.

DNA profiling is used worldwide in identification of missing persons in mass disasters or other accidents and also to establish biological relationship in disrupted paternity cases, kidnappings, immigration, citizenship, rape, murder and other incident.

Evolving in the 1960s, the DNA test is regarded an outstanding scientific achievement of the 20th century.

However, Nepali courts have not accepted DNA reports in several cases, saying there is a lack of cross-checking mechanisms. Examples include a recent property case in the Saptari district court and that of Kabita Gurung’s parental identification where a Chitwan district court verdict dismissed the DNA report.
Shree Kanta Paudel, Joint Registrar at the Supreme Court (SC), said, “In several instances, courts have decided converse to the DNA reports. If there was
an alternative to the national laboratory, the court would be greatly enabled. There are also criteria such as facial expressions and other proof. The court can’t depend on a DNA report.”

Experts at National Forensic Science Laboratory (NFSL)
said the lab is well equipped for DNA tests bemoaned the judges’ conservativeness.

“There is no ground for doubting DNA tests. The system is accepted worldwide but Nepal is still in the Stone Age in terms of technology,” said Jeevan Prasad Risal, DNA Department Officer at NFSL. “Workshops should be held for judges to develop their awareness.”

Police officials also said DNA testing is an important aspect of crime investigation as it has helped them solve cases in the past and even now also.
“DNA reports have indeed helped us and we trust the services of NFSL,” said Yadav Raj Khanal, Superintendent of Police.  

Officials at the ministry said the DNA reports approved by NFSL are reliable and strong evidence in the court and that they would launch a special awareness programme on the DNA test process.

“None has the right to doubt the court’s decision but we plan to
hold special programmes to convince the court that our only national lab does have credibility and can help in the matter of verdicts,” said Mukunda Raj Prakash Ghimire, Spokesperson at the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Source: The Kathmandu Post Daily

Link: http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/07/27/top-story/courts-cold-shoulder-dna-evidence/210906/

http://www.ekantipur.com/2010/07/28/top-story/courts-cold-shoulder-dna-evidence/319330.html

Posted on: 2010-07-28 07:53

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About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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