Recognition of Forensic Science Degree in Government Forensic Jobs

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While Forensic Science may come off as a novel subject to many, it has, in reality, taken its place today in several private as well as government universities in India. Consequently, about more than 400 students register every year for these courses ranging from a diploma to a Ph. D. program. Eventually, the real question arises, as to whether this growth is actually a reflection of recognising and acknowledging the importance of forensic science in the criminal justice system.

Most students start their journey in this field with a B.Sc. degree in Forensic Science, which is usually followed with a Master’s degree; some may even opt to further go for a doctoral program. This is to say that, a forensic science student spends 5-10 years on an average, studying and honing the knowledge and skills required to work in a Forensic Science Laboratory. In addition, owing to the fact that most of the universities offering such courses are private, these courses come at a hefty price ranging from Rs. 40,000 - Rs. 80,000 per year, causing huge financial strain on the students as well as their parents. Looking at these numbers, anyone would think that the end result would be rewarding and no less than a well paid job with excellent career prospects. Unfortunately, this is a far-fetched idea and nowhere near the truth.

At first glance, the various central, state and regional forensic science laboratories that have been set up across the country seems like a one stop solution to all these problems, with many considering it as their holy grail. Because logically, the common notion is that these students who have been equipped with the theoretical and practical knowledge of various fields of forensic science should carry out forensic work in a forensic laboratory. However, digging deeper, majority of these posts come with a good amount of limitations. Firstly, the recruitments are subjected to the availability or vacancies of the Government posts, which are very rarely released. Secondly, a student of Forensic Science is not even considered to be eligible to apply for a majority of such posts. Instead, students from a pure or basic science background are given preference for these jobs; for example, in case of a post in forensic chemistry, they prefer someone with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and for Cyber Forensics, the requirement is always from a computer or IT background.

It is ludicrous that these pure science students are then trained for the jobs in the first few months after their selection, meanwhile, forensic students who are already trained and well versed in the domain are denied entry, often leaving them to look for jobs irrelevant to their subject area. As a result, most forensic science graduates either end up unemployed or working in a completely different field and ultimately end up with their precious university degree along with their time, money and efforts all going down the drain.

Lack of forensic science laboratories could have been a plausible reason for the wastage of such expertise, however, with the recent increase in the number of FSLs in the country, it is no longer an arguable reason. It is high time for the concerned bodies such as the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Directorate of Forensic Science Services to open their eyes and see that not only is there a huge dusty backlog of cases being piled up in FSLs; but there is also a huge pile of qualified and trained but unemployed forensic science graduates that can actually make a difference in the functioning and delivery of services in the FSLs and eventually, in the justice system. The DFSS should focus more on the needs of the forensic community and fulfil one of the major duties for which it was established. Instead of ignoring the cries of the students for years, the most little it can do is to change the eligibility criteria for the posts in Central and State Forensic Laboratories and give forensic science students equal opportunity that they very much deserve, to showcase their knowledge. This has been long-overdue and they need to take into account the plight of thousands of forensic students and take immediate measures to reform the system.