In detective movies and spy thrillers we find how investigators look for clues to find out who has committed the crime. They also explore the trail which could lead to the criminals. Such investigators make comprehensive use of forensic science to find out the facts and to draw their conclusions. From this we can see how important is the subject of Forensic Science. Simply put Forensic Science is the application of various disciplines of science such as physics, chemistry, biology, computer science and engineering to matters of law. Forensic science plays a significant role in the criminal justice system by providing scientifically based information through the analysis of physical evidence. During an investigation, evidence is collected from a crime scene or from a person, analysed in a crime laboratory after which the results are presented for convicting the criminals and dispense justice. It is easy to understand that each crime scene is unique, and each case presents its own challenges. Those who find this description interesting and are keen to meet such challenges , may think of a career in forensic science. Forensic science can be a powerful force in support of justice and public safety. Properly applied, it clears the innocent and helps convict the guilty. The job of a Forensic scientist is to help collect, preserve, and examine physical evidence during the course of an investigation.
The subject can be divided into three categories. The first one is Forensic Medicine which includes forensic pathology, psychiatry, psychology, and deontology.
Next comes Laboratory sciences consisting of chemistry, biology, toxicology, ballistics, fingerprints, targeted documents and impressions. The last one is Field sciences comprising of crime scene investigation which inter alia includes investigating cases of fire and explosion and also places where drugs are made and circulated.
Topics covered under forensic science include Suspect Detection System, Brain Electrical Oscillation, Signature Profiling, Narco-analysis, Polygraph Examination, Audio Video Tape Authentication System, Hand-writing analysis, among others. Forensic science is a comprehensive subject in itself and has multiple branches and specializations. Some of these are briefly described below:
Forensic serology- This branch of forensics deals with examining physical evidences submitted in various crimes such as homicides, physical assaults, burglaries, robberies etc.
Forensic Psychiatry- Psychiatry is a subject related to mental health of human beings. When a person commits crime it also reflects the mental state of the person. Forensic science integrates past observations in clinical experience and researches in neurosciences to understand the human aspect of criminal incidents.
Forensic Engineering- Forensic Engineering examines intricacies of road accidents, fire accidents and other cases of injuries which need detailed investigation.
Forensic Architecture- Forensic architects design mortuaries and forensic science institutes. This is a combination of architecture and forensics.
Forensic Laboratory Analysis- The job of analysts working in this area is to conduct DNA testing including micro analysis of blood etc. to bring out facts related to crime.
Forensic Pathology- Conducting post-mortems to find out the cause, time and manner of injury or death comes under this branch.
Forensic Veterinary Science- Conducting autopsies of animals, investigating unwarranted deaths of animals are major activities under this branch.
Forensic Toxicology- This mainly deals with investigating nature and uses of chemicals, poison etc. in crimes and also examining adverse effects of chemicals on human beings and other living organisms.
Wildlife Forensics- As the name suggests this branch is associated with animals and wildlife. In many cases animal skins, elephant tusks fetch a high price due to which criminals are involved in killing animals and also in smuggling of animal skins, tusks etc. Wildlife forensics helps in investigation of time and situations of crime, to help nab the criminals and to curb illegal trafficking of protected animals.
Forensic Odontology- Forensic Odontology is meant to understand dental structures to explain injuries and death associated with crimes in which assault has occurred on face, teeth etc. resulting in injury or death.
Forensic Speech Science: This deals with voice recording and analysing voice samples using technological tools with the purpose of identifying the speaker. Voice recordings are considered as evidence in the court of law and may prove to be of crucial help in exploring evidences of crimes .
Study of Forensic Science
As an independent subject, study of Forensic Science is offered at graduation level. A number of institutes, both universities and colleges, in the country, run a B.Sc. course in Forensic Science. A postgraduate qualification is more desirable to become a professional in the area and for better career prospects. For a B.Sc. course in Forensic Science one should have studied science at 10+2 level. For a Masters degree in forensic science all science graduates are eligible. Few universities conduct their own entrance test for entry to postgraduate courses. Others offer admission on the basis of marks obtained in graduation.
Those with a degree in medicine (MBBS) may also pursue certain specializations in Forensic Science.
Institutes offering courses in Forensic Science and allied subjects
Considering the importance of curbing crimes and bringing criminals to book, Government of India has established Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan National (LNJN) Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science at New Delhi. The institute in affiliation with Guru Gobind Singh Indraprasth University runs postgraduate courses as MA in Criminology and MA in Forensic Science. For the first course graduates from all disciplines are eligible. The other course is open to science graduates only.
The Institute has come out with another scheme of conducting a Forensic Science Aptitude and Calibre Test. Persons having Postgraduate qualification in specified disciplines of science are considered eligible to write the test. This is described to be a screening test on the pattern of UGC-NET/GATE etc.
Gujarat Forensic Science University (GFSU) at Ahmedabad is another premium institute in the area of forensic science and related subjects. Some of its courses are-
Sc. Forensic Science
Sc. Digital Forensics and Information Security
MBA Finance with specialization in Forensic Accounting
MSc Forensic Odontology
PG Diploma in Forensic Management
PG Diploma in Forensic Document Examination
PG Diploma in Fingerprint Science
PG Diploma in Forensic Toxicology
PG Diploma in Forensic Accounting
Post Basic Diploma in Forensic Nursing
GFSU also has a number of online e courses viz. Certified Fraud Examination Professional, Certified Electronic Evidence Examiner, Certificate Diploma in Computer Forensics. Information security related e course are titled as Certified Information Security Professional, Indian Banks Association (IBA)/ Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Approved Certified Information Security Professional Course and Certificate Diploma in Cyber Security. The university has doctoral and fellowship courses as well.
Raksha Shakti University at Ahmedabad was established by Government of Gujarat and offers M.Sc. and M.Phil. courses in Forensic Science, Postgraduate Diploma in Cyber Security & Cyber Forensics.
Institute of Forensic Science at Mumbai has B.Sc. and M.Sc. courses in Forensic Science with two Post-graduate Diploma courses;one in Forensic Science and Related Law and the other in Cyber and Digital Forensics and Related Law. Government Institute of Forensic Science at Aurangabad has similar courses. Panjab University has an Institute of Forensic Science and Criminology offering M.Sc. Course in Forensic Science & Criminology. Besides a large number of universities in the country have postgraduate courses in forensic science. Few of these are listed below-
Bundelkhand University Jhansi
Osmania University, Hydera-bad
Guru Gobind Singh Indraprasth University, Delhi
Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak
Dr Hari Singh Gour University, Sagar
Guru Ghasidas Vishvavidyalay, Bilaspur
Karnatak University, Dharwad
Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, Haryana
Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow
Gujarat University, Ahmedabad
As a forensic scientist you have work opportunities both in government and private sector. Also the opportunities may depend on the area of your specialisation in forensic science. Broad areas of work include ascertaining authenti-city of documents , crime investigations, terror attack investigations, mass disaster management, cyber crime investigation, environment protection, consumer protection, protection of human rights, intellectual property rights.
Central and state Govern-ments have established a number of forensic laboratories at different centres. Central Bureau of Investigation has its own forensic lab. Forensic scientists are required in all such labs.
Those having interest in academic life may choose to teach at graduate and post-graduate level. Forensic Science offers ample opportunities of research.
If you are inclined to join police forces , a qualification in forensic science may be of help in the long run. Other law enforcement agencies also require services of forensic scientists. A number of private detective agencies are operating in big and metro-politan cities. These agencies rely on the services of forensic scientists which can be on full or part time basis. Big hospitals, law firms may also have job opportunities.
You may also work on your own in one or more identified areas of forensic science. Handwriting analysis can be one such area.
The world is moving towards digital and large number of financial transactions are happening online and electronically. With this there is spurt in cyber crimes. Experts of cyber forensics are needed to solve these cases. So this is an emerging area of career opportunities. Other branches of forensic science see regular demand of professionals. Recently Indian Banks Association and Reserve Bank of India had advertised substantial number of vacancies for forensic auditors.
Suitability for career in forensic science
A career in forensic science is more suitable for people who can concentrate on a task for long, are adventurous and have a lot of patience. Also an outgoing nature, ability to work in a team, an eye for detail and strong analytical skills will be of much help. If you choose a career in forensic science you should try to develop these traits to do well.