Scars, Moles and its Relevancy in Criminal Investigation

An investigation begins with the identification and retrieval of physical evidence at the crime scene. It is followed by its study, review of the results, and presentation to the court of law of the findings. Forensic methods, scientific disciplines, and the specialized services offered by forensic laboratories should be properly understood by all staff involved from the first responders to the end-users of the information. Investigation of a crime scene is a process that aims to document the scene as it is first encountered and to identify and collect all the material evidence reasonably exculpatory to the case resolution. Scars and Moles are the body marks that help in the recognition of a person who maybe accused of the crime. In this article, the author has mentioned the importance of analyzing these bodily marks.

Introduction

Police duties include a broad variety of tasks including raising awareness, crime prevention, traffic control, and resource planning. Their primary responsibility, though, is to investigate and prosecute crimes or alleged crimes. The responsibility of the police in criminal cases is to represent judiciary needs and not simply to secure prosecutions. The police should, therefore, deal with a wide range of technicians and specialists to investigate a crime. The forensic scientists and pathologists are among the most significant.

Specific forms of material or hard evidence can be identified at almost every crime scene. The forms of evidence and their sources can help investigators and experts to acknowledge and understand how the crime has been perpetrated.

What is Criminal Investigation?

Criminal investigation includes the collection of procedures for the detection of crimes and the prosecution of criminals. The criminal investigator is involved in identifying the techniques, triggers, and motives of offenders, and the identification of victims.

According to Clause (h) of Section 2, investigation includes all the proceedings under this Code for the collection of evidence conducted by a police officer or by any person (other than a Magistrate) who is authorised by a Magistrate in this behalf.[1]

An investigation is a vital part of criminal proceedings. The initial step after the commission of a crime or the reception by a police officer of information on the execution of a crime is “investigation.” The aim is to recognize the suspect and prosecute him for prosecution in compliance with the provisions of the Code. The police officer has the powers to prosecute cognizable crimes under Section 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code. In non-cognizable cases, the police officer has no right to investigate without a warrant, and must seek a warrant under Section 155(2) of the Code.

Forensic technique and DNA

The word ‘forensic’ comes from the Latin word ‘forens’ which means tribunal. This means ‘in relation to the courts,’ this does not mean ‘science’ in itself. Forensic Science is defined as “the application of science to those criminal and civil laws that are enforced by the police agencies in a criminal justice system”.

Forensic scientists are those who use their scientific expertise to solve a crime. For instance, biologists and chemists who study samples of blood, fluid, or substance from a scene of the crime. Their experience helps the police decide what could have happened, and who might be responsible. The forensic pathologist is a medical professional specialized in pathology research, and operating in court framework. It also includes testing a deceased person to obtain appropriate samples or proofs. Forensic pathologists do not usually deal with living victims or that of physical assaults or accidents.

DNA test is now a predominant forensic technique for identifying criminals when biological tissues are left at the scene of the crime. DNA testing on samples such as saliva, skin, blood, hair, or semen not only helps to convict but also serves to exonerate. The sophisticated technology makes it possible to obtain conclusive results. The DNA test is a proof or paternity/legitimacy of a child. On refusal by the opposite party to give a sample of blood for conducting a DNA test, a strong inference would be drawn against him. The report of ‘DNA Finger Printing’ issued from, DNA Finger Printing and Diagnostic Centre, Hyderabad’ which is a central government undertaking for a DNA test can be admitted in evidence without examining the expert under Section 293, Cr.PC. The evidence of the DNA expert is admissible in evidence as it is a perfect science.

What are Scars and Moles?

A detailed verbal and visual record of all body marks is part of the external inspection of an individual, a victim injured, or a suspect. These include characteristics such as marks, moles, piercings, tattoos, and scars. Body marks may be descriptive of a person and may be used to help in identification, in accordance with clinical or forensic reports and family member’s identification.

Scars are mostly the product of prior accidents, assaults, or wounds which may need medical care and is an ideal starting point for the pathologist who wishes to make a definitive identification. In drug users, scars carved out on needle tracks are informative and milieu of many crimes.

Hospitals; record in detail all injuries and in particular for injuries that require operations of the kind to rectify the situation. Such procedures were either small-keyhole surgery or major invasive procedures, but all of them create a strong visible mark i.e. a scar.

Another significant body mark is the imprints of birth. Birthmarks are benign blood vessel tumors that are just underneath the skin. Often at birth, as the name indicates, they are present even although they could fade over time. The way a birthmark is formed and positioned can be essential to help determine someone suspected of a crime. Moles and warts are important skin characteristics, although they are more common than a birthmark but also less individualistic.

Need for Biometrics or Forensic Technique in Investigation

Forensic sciences play a crucial role in the criminal justice system by providing scientifically based information through the analysis of physical evidence, the identity of the culprit through personal clues like fingerprint, footprints, body marks, etc.

Based on anatomical and behavioral characteristics of individuals (e.g. fingerprints, body marks, signature, and gait, etc.) a vast array of biometric technologies have been developed. Despite the enormous advances in technology, there are many circumstances in which foremost biometric traits are not present and where the quality of the sensed images is deficient. Soft biometric traits like height, sex, the color of the eye, ethnic origin, scars, moles, and tattoos can be used to identify a person in such cases. While these alternative features cannot be differentiated distinctively, they contain discrimination that reduces the possibilities.

Law enforcement agencies, therefore, collect this type of demographic information in their databases and maintain it. Within the world of law enforcement and forensics, several soft-biometric features like scars, moles, and tattoos (SMTs) are also used for identification. Criminal investigation is a significant application since SMTs also offer insight into the past and history of a person, such as membership in gangs, ethnicity, prior convictions, and years in prison.

Case Laws

State of NCT Delhi V. Sujeet Kumar[2]

Delhi police investigated the case of the horrific rape and unnatural sexual act with a four-year-old girl living in a slum dwelling and DNA profiling was used to link the suspect to the ghastly act of sexual assault. After examining the detailed analysis of the child’s testimony and different methodologies involved, the court approved the findings of the investigation based on DNA reports and other evidence and found the accused guilty and set aside the acquittal order passed by the court.

The State of Bombay V. Kathi Kalu Oghad & Others[3]

The court held that giving thumb impression, specimen signature, blood, hair, semen, etc. by the accused do not amount to ‘being a witness’ within the meaning of the said Article. The accused, therefore, has no right to object to DNA examination for the purposes of investigation and trial.

Conclusion

The use of such technology in criminal investigations and trials has been given rising importance in the Indian scenario. The committees appointed to reform the criminal justice system have affirmed that the infusion of crime detection technology can help the system work more efficiently. The applicable legislation has occasionally been amended to make room for the use of forensic technologies in the investigation and trial of crime.

Nevertheless, it can be assumed that the laws need to be revised because of the flaws. Also, due to their restrictive approach, the courts are reluctant to depend on empirical proof, or certain inherent flaws in the evidence produced in court, that prevent them from focusing solely on it. Fair justice is the main motto of the criminal justice system. Of course, the forensic proof is more genuine than ocular proof. Forensic research is a boon for the criminal justice system as forensic evidence. The perceived flaws must be fixed in order to make progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a Criminal Investigation?
  • Scars and moles, both are bodily marks. How do we differentiate between them?
  • How is the police responsible for forensic investigation?
  • What is Forensic study?

References

Books-

  • Principles of the Law of Evidence by Dr. Avtar Singh, Central Law Publications.
  • R.V. Kelkar’s Criminal Procedure, Eastern Book Company.
  • Law of Evidence by Mayank Madhaw, Singhal Law Publications.

Websites-


  • [1] The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
  • [2] 2014 SCC Online Del 1952
  • [3] 1962 SCR (3) 10

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