Delhi Riots: HC Pulls up Forensic Science Lab, Govt Over Delay in DNA Testing

The move came in response to a petition by a man who wanted to ascertain if a charred body of a youth was that of his missing son.

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Wednesday pulled up the Delhi government and the Forensic Science Laboratory, Rohini for not testing the DNA samples taken from the charred body of a youth found alongside a car following the riots in North East Delhi on February 26.

After a man, Sajid Ali, claimed that the body was that of his son Mohsin, DNA samples from him and his wife were taken on March 3 to establish if the deceased was indeed his son. However, testing on the DNA samples was not done for over two weeks on the frivolous ground that permission of a court was needed.

When Justice Navin Chawla of the Delhi high court asked the counsel for the Delhi government if there was a provision for the need of such permission, the latter replied in the negative.

‘Delay in testing cannot be countenanced’

In his order, on the petition filed by Sajid Ali which sought directions for the Delhi government and the FSL Rohini to expeditiously conduct the DNA matching test and furnish a report, Justice Chawla wrote that such a delay in testing for want of orders from the court, when there was no such provision of the law requiring such orders, “cannot be countenanced”. He said that respondents should “looking into the urgency of each case, carry out such testing without waiting for any order from any court”.

In the petition, Ali had named the Delhi government and the Forensic Science Laboratory, Rohini through its director, as the respondents.

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Mohsin had set off from Noida for North East Delhi when he went missing 

The petition stated that Ali was looking for the whereabouts of his son, 20-year-old Mohsin Ali, who went missing along with his while Maruti Alto car on February 25 from the Khajuri Pushta Road area. It said that there was extreme violence in North East Delhi from February 23 till March 3. It had claimed the lives of 53 persons and had led to extensive loss of property. During the violence, several people went missing and many of them were later found dead, injured in hospitals or in detention or custody of the police.

Mohsin, the petition said, had left his shop in Sector 5 of Noida to go to Green Gardens at Sabhapur. His route involved taking the Khajuri Pushta Road. He went missing around 5 p.m. Upon hearing about violence along the road, his family tried to call him to enquire about his whereabouts, but they could not reach him.

Thereafter Ali’s family members called the manager of Green Gardens to enquire about Mohsin but they were informed that Mohsin had never reached the place on that fateful evening.

Security forces patrol in a riot affected area in New Delhi, February 27, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

Body was found near Mohsin’s car

The petition further said that on February 26 an unidentified body was recovered in a burnt and charred condition on Khajuri Pushta Road, about two km from Green Gardens. It was found alongside the car that was being driven by Mohsin.

The body and its remains were kept in the mortuary of the Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital in North East Delhi. The petition noted that the description of Mohsin matched that of the recovered body, about which people had enquired from the investigating officer of the case.

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DNA samples of Mohsin’s parents were taken on March 3

In order to ascertain the identity of the deceased, DNA samples for identification and testing were collected from Ali and his wife by the investigating officer of Khajuri Khas police station and sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory at Rohini on March 3. The petition said although 14 days had passed since then, the results of the test had not been submitted by the FSL.

Stating that the condition of the body was such that the only way to ascertain its true identity was through a DNA test, and thus an expedited test result was necessary, the petition urged the high court to issue a writ order or direction in the nature of mandamus or an appropriate direction to the Delhi government and the FSL in Rohini to expeditiously conclude the DNA matching test and furnish a report.

It was also stated in the petition that in case the DNA sample test turned out to be negative, a further delay in the investigation would make it even more difficult for the missing person to be traced.

Court recorded there was no permission needed for DNA testing

In his order on March 18, Justice Navin Chawla recorded that the counsel for the respondents had submitted that the Delhi government and the FSL were awaiting orders from the court regarding DNA testing. When the court asked if there was a provision in the law requiring such a direction, the counsel said that there was no such provision.

The lawyer of Delhi government and FSL also stated that the DNA testing would start on Wednesday and that a minimum of 15 days would be required for the test results to be furnished.

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In view of this, the court disposed of the petition after directing the respondents to expedite the process of matching the DNA samples and to complete it within 15 days. The court also directed the Delhi government to communicate the results of the test to the petitioner immediately upon the receipt of the report and to then file a compliance affidavit before the court.