Move to merge GEQD with CFSL draws flak

Hyderabad, August 10: In a proposal that could spell doom for the prestigious Government Examiner of Questioned Documents (GEQD), the Ministry of Home Affiars (MHA) is likely to merge GEQDs with the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) across the country including Hyderabad.

The move, which has come under immense criticism from the forensic science community, is based on recommendations given by merely two Consultants — Gopal J Mishra, who retired as director of Punjab State Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) 12 years ago and C Damodaran, who retired from the Chennai FSL.

Following this development, the three GEQDs at Hyderabad, Kolkata and Shimla have shot off a letter to Union home secretary GK Pillai stating that such a merge will be disastrous as GQEDs, over the last 100 years, have been pioneering organisations in the field of forensic science in the country.

The GEQDs, which are being headed by government examiners, deal with cases relating to white collar offences, both in the field of forensic documents and cyber forensics whereas the CFSLs deal with cases pertaining to heinous crimes including rapes, murders, firearm injuries, narcotics and DNA,among others.

Sources from New Delhi told Express on the phone that the consultants appointed by MHA to recommend ways and means to improve the standards of scientific investigation in the country gave this recommendation, among others, to merge GEQDs with CFSLs.

GEQDs, which enjoy the trust of premier investigating agencies including CBI and NIA, have played a major role in the investigation of several high-profile cases including the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, terror attack on Parliament, CGHS scam, the Sohrabuddin encounter case, Satyam fraud, the recent RRB scam, Swami Nityananda case and the fake passport case involving gangster Abu Salem and Monica Bedi.

‘’The consultants chose the document division of CFSL, CBI laboratory as the role model to equate the GEQD laboratories. But how can the GEQD labs be compared with the document division of CFSL, CBI as regards to performance, status, reputation and work culture ?’’ a forensic expert from Chandigarh argued. In fact, in their representation to Pillai, the GEQDs wanted the MHA to take the views of the CBI director, NIA officials, public prosecutors and only then take a decision. Experts say that the examination system and reporting pattern of the two labs (GEQDs and document division of CFSL, CBI) is entirely different. For example, in the document division of CFSL, CBI, there is a single tier examination system whereas in the GEQDs, there is a three-tier system,and two examiners sign each report.

In fact, GEQD, Hyderabad, has established the computer forensic division in 2000 and it is regarded as the most sought after lab across the country for investigation of the high profile cases. Interestingly, during the DGPs’ conference in Delhi a few years ago, it was suggested that there was a need to open new branches of GEQDs in the country.