Across the world, the importance of forensic science in the criminal justice delivery system is being recognised now as a vital element of national governance. Well before most others could appreciate the value of forensics, in 2009, Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, had embarked upon setting up world-class academic institutions to improve the criminal justice delivery system. One such initiative of the now Prime Minister was to conceptualise and create National Forensic Sciences University (NFSU) as an exclusive institution of higher learning for forensic sciences and allied subjects, dedicated to enhancing knowledge and innovating skills of international standards. Home Minister, Amit Shah, served as the nerve centre to steer the newly created forensics university from its humble beginning of launching just five programmes from the existing complex of Gujarat’s Directorate of Forensic Science to developing it into a reputed national academic institution.
In a short , it has rapidly evolved and expanded to new horizons wherein the university has launched academic programmes in wide-ranging fields of forensic science. Well before ‘Skill India’ became a buzzword, the university had adopted a novel approach and introduced the handling of live cases by the students under supervision for improved skills. Today, the university boasts of having around 5,000 students, undergoing 70 specialised Post-Graduate Degree/Diploma courses being run in every possible branch of forensic science, ranging from legacy branches like fingerprint science, document examination, food analysis, and ballistics, to the more advanced forensic fields such as DNA forensics, forensic pharmacy, forensic dentistry and forensic psychology, further on to the latest streams such as digital forensics, multimedia forensics, forensic nano-technology, forensic structural engineering, humanitarian forensics, and forensic journalism, to name a few. Amongst allied subjects, academic courses have been started in cybersecurity, law, homeland security, police, business intelligence, etc.
In addition, following the New Education Policy of 2020, the university has also launched a few five-year integrated courses in forensic science, cybersecurity, law, and forensic accounting. The special impetus to R&D has continued hand-in-hand with academics. Besides this, to keep pace with the advancements in academics and technology, the university has planned academic collaboration across the world in a big way which stands today with 186 multi-disciplined institutions.
To keep pace with the advancements in academics and technology, the university has planned academic collaboration across the world in a big way which stands today with 186 multi-disciplined institutions.
One of the unique features of the university is that it offers expert consultancy in setting up or upgrading various laboratories in the country as well as abroad. Yet another special feature is the enormous amount of training programmes being run for working professionals from India and as many as 70 foreign countries, a number which stands at more than 26,000 officers so far including 4,300 foreign officers from varied departments such as FSLs, police, armed forces, civil service, judiciary, banking, vigilance, customs, immigration, etc.
With such remarkable rapid development and a high standard of excellence achieved within a short period of 11 years, the Government of India upgraded the university to be the National Forensic Sciences University on 1 October 2020, and bestowed it with the coveted status of an ‘Institution of National Importance’.
Since then, NFSU has taken major strides. It has not only got its first campus running in New Delhi but with the help of the Ministry of Home Affairs, NFSU has established campuses
from scratch in Goa, Tripura, Bhopal, Pune, Manipur, Dharwad, and Guwahati with work in progress to set up campuses in many other states. Even bigger stride is that NFSU has set up its first overseas campus
at Jinja in Uganda, thus becoming the first public university in the country to have a campus abroad.
In line with the vision of GOI to have a forensics facility across the country, and at least one in every district, NFSU has taken a unique initiative of designing Mobile Forensic Vans (MFVs). After undertaking sustained research and study, the university has designed and developed a comprehensive mobile forensic van on two different indigenously manufactured vehicles. These are suitable for Indian conditions and equipped with investigation kits, sample collection facilities, and forensic expertise. This is the first step toward enhancing the infrastructure.
As a super-specialised institution, NFSU has taken it upon itself to lead from the front in imparting high-quality technical education, undertaking high-end scientific research, and developing high-skilled experts in varied areas of Forensic Sciences and allied subjects.
Besides this, to help combat the menace of narcotic drugs, a state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence for R&D of Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances has been established at NFSU as of July 2022. With a similar aim, besides the existing Ballistics Range, NFSU in August 2022 set up Centres of Excellence for Cyber Security, DNA Forensics, and Forensic & Investigative Psychology.
The university has also emphasised the need for expert manpower so that its students become forensic experts and through training, different categories of police staff are also equipped with the knowledge and skills of forensic science. These efforts received a major boost when landmark MoUs
were signed by NFSU with Delhi Police as well as Chandigarh Police for the induction of NFSU-trained forensic experts to help in the scientific investigation of crime. Yet another step in this direction is a Ministry of Home Affairs-driven interactive virtual training module on the investigation of crime against women which is being developed by NFSU for capacity building of police forces across the states. Besides this, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently directed the Delhi Police that forensic investigation should be made mandatory in all crimes involving punishment of more than six years in the national capital to increase the conviction rate. This is a significant development and underlines the importance of the criminal justice delivery system as a vital element of national governance.
The changing paradigms of the 21st
century have presented complex new challenges and given rise to entirely new threats in various domains. As a super-specialised institution, NFSU has taken it upon itself to lead from the front in imparting high-quality technical education, undertaking high-end scientific research, and developing high-skilled experts in varied areas of Forensic Sciences and allied subjects. The university continues to gallop quietly but rapidly towards meeting India’s expanding need for forensics in criminal investigations and improvement of the criminal justice delivery system.
J. M. Vyas is Vice-Chancellor of the National Forensic Sciences University, (Institution of National Importance), Gandhinagar, Gujarat
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