Mr. Kumar has been in the active Police Service for 35 years now. Just retired from the Indian Police Service in April 2021. He has served as Director & Special Director of Anti-Corruption Bureau, Gujarat, and also served as the Joint Director of TFC Zone – Technical, Forensic and Co-operation focussed on Upgrading the Forensic and Technical skills of the CBI. In the State of Gujarat, he has served as ADC to the Governor, Superintendent of Police in nine Districts, and Inspector General of Police, Prisons. He specialised in the application of Forensics in Crime investigation. He has so far been able to get convictions for 58 people solely based on Forensic applications during the investigations through the latest Scientific Aids and tools. He has come to a firm conclusion that all the latest scientific aids and applications are scientific in nature, but their use is an art.
While investigating the Lion Poaching case of Gir Sanctuary in Gujarat, he stumbled upon a new area and created a new domain in Wildlife Crime Investigation. The new area was recognised by WWF Expert Shri Samir Sinha, IFS. He christened the area as, ‘ Use of Conventional Forensics in Wildlife Crime Investigation’. He shared his Forensic knowledge with the Wildlife Crime Investigators. His idea is to create a network of police officers who share his thoughts and contribute to the efforts of Wildlife Conservation as Police Officers.
1. Take us on your journey from student life to being Joint Director at the Central Bureau of Investigation.
My father joined the British Army and fought in the second world war. After independence, he was with the Indian Army. Spartan ethics and discipline in life were the hallmarks. Studied in Central School throughout UP, Gujarat, and Mumbai. Graduated and Post-graduated from St Stephens College Delhi in History (1980-85). Was awarded UGC Fellowship. Fell short of two semesters to complete my M Phil from JNU from the Centre of Historical Studies, before getting selected in the IPS in the year 1986.
Was allotted to the Gujarat cadre. Served nine districts, two metropolitan cities (Ahmedabad and Vadodara), and sensitive branches as Intelligence & CID Crime. Honed my skills in the application of Forensics in detecting cold cases in CID Crime for almost half a decade. Was awarded President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Services in 2004. Bijal Joshi gang-rape case which was investigated by me ended in the conviction of five accused for life, due to DNA evidence. In 2007 ten Asiatic Lions were poached in the Gir Sanctuary. The State Government decided to hand over the case to me for investigation. Was able to detect and convict 38 poachers, possibly the biggest wildlife crime conviction in India. The case was detected through the application of Forensics.
A stint as IGP of Gujarat Prisons added yet another flavour to Policing. Won ‘Manthan Award’ from ‘Digital Empowerment Foundation of India’ for establishing the ‘Telemedicine facility’ having Satellite connectivity for Sabarmati Jail for custodial Healthcare which was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Gujarat.
Was inducted into the CBI in 2010 as Joint Director, primarily because of possession of Forensic knowledge, and a new Zone devoted to Forensics was created for the first time in the CBI. As Joint Director CBI Delhi supervised Interpol Division, Forensics Division, and System’s Division. Received Appreciation Note from FBI Director for superb co-operation. Detected Jnaneswari Train accident and Netai Massacre case of West Bengal in 2010. Both the cases were detected through Forensics. Forensic appraisal of the scene of the crime in the Bhanwari Devi case was supervised by me and extracted incriminating evidences against the accused. DNA profiling of charred bones of Bhanwari Devi was sent to FBI Lab which was the turning point in the case. Shehla Masood murder of Bhopal was handed over to me and ended in a conviction for 5 accused. The forensic application was the crucial key. TAFSU – Technical and Forensic Support Units were established in 17 Zonal Directors of CBI. Was awarded the Sanctuary Asia award for the conviction and use of Forensics in the investigation of the Asiatic Lion Poaching case. Awarded with Presidents’s Police Medal for Distinguished Services in 2014 as Joint Director CBI Mumbai.
58 accused have been convicted so far in my career. Maximum use of successful Forensics applications has been the common denominator in all the cases investigated by me.
My tenure with the CBI came to conclusion in 2016 and I returned to my Cadre Gujarat and got posted as Special Director Anti-Corruption Bureau Gujarat State. I retired as the Director-General of Police and Director Anti-Corruption Bureau in Gujarat State.
2. How important is it for a Forensic officer to visit a crime scene for investigation?
The statements recorded before a Police officer is not tenable in the Court of law. Under these circumstances, the Role of a Forensic Expert becomes very important, as their testimony and Expert report are tenable in the Court of Law. Hence, it is an advantage to seek their help at the time of collection of the evidence, so that their expert report can be held by the Court. More so, Police officers are not professionally trained for the proper collection and packaging of the evidence. The identification and collection of the evidences under their supervision will go a long way in seeking a conviction in the case. In all my investigations, the Forensic team used to be an integral part of the investigating team. In the Lion Poaching case of Gir Sanctuary, a team of 15 Forensic experts were with me for almost a month inside the Gir Sanctuary. Most of my convictions were the result of a strong Forensic interface.
3. So far you have 58 successful convictions (Conventional & Wildlife Crime) in cases supervised under your guidance solely based on Forensic application during the investigations through the latest Scientific Aids and tools. What are some of the most popular scientific aids and techniques being used for investigations in our country?
Psychological forms of detection of deception techniques in an investigation like Psychological assessment of criminals and scenes of crimes, Psychological Autopsy, Forensic Statement Analysis, Audio Statement Analysis, LVA-Layered Voice Analysis, SDS – Suspect Detection System, Eye-Detect, Polygraph, Brain fingerprinting, and Narco- analysis have played a major role in the investigations conducted by me. DNA Fingerprinting of late has been used in a very unconventional manner by me, in the case of Traps organised while I was in the Anti-Corruption Bureau as Director.
4. You have been serving as ADC to the Governor, Joint Director of Central Bureau of Investigation, and Director Anti-Corruption Bureau. How are these roles different from normal policing?
The role of ADC to the Governor taught me the art of looking after the safety and security of the VIP, the Hon’ble Governor. As ADC to the Governor extensive touring of the State along with the Governor helped me understand Gujarat much better. Various meetings with the Bureaucrats and the functionaries helped me understand the Administrative Eco-System much better, which is crucial to understanding the law and order situation of the state. Understanding the Tribal development issues was a new component of my training as a Police officer, which played a major role in formulating the concept of ‘ Policing a Tribal dominated area’. The job of ADC in the early formative years gave me a panoptic view of the State administration which subsequently helped me in Police administration and normal policing.
As Joint Director of CBI of TFC Zone – Technical, Forensic and Co-operation focussed on Upgrading the Forensic and Technical skills of the CBI. Close co-operation with Interpol Lyon ( France ) helped me understand International Police Co-operation methods and modalities and undertake extending help in the overseas investigations of various States of the country, with different countries of the Globe. In routine policing, these issues do not come to the fore.
As Joint Director Mumbai of the Economic Offences wing and thereafter as Joint Director Mumbai for the Anti-Corruption Branch helped me to understand and investigate cases related to high-value financial crimes, scams, and high-level corruption in the Bureaucracy and the Public Sector undertakings. This canvas of exposure is very difficult to get in routine policing. Anti-Corruption work is a different area altogether as it’s a specialised agency working only on the Anti-corruption matters.
The areas enumerated above are generally not covered in normal policing which primarily focuses on law and order duty and routine conventional investigations. The specialised agencies focus only on the special areas of policing and hence become experts in the specialised area of policing.
5. Talking about the Lion Poaching case of Gir Sanctuary in Gujarat, The new area ‘Use of Conventional Forensics in Wildlife Crime Investigation ‘was recognised by WWF Expert Shri Samir Sinha, IFS. Can you please share your experience with us?
I never had the opportunity to investigate a Wildlife crime and that too of such a massive scale having International and National ramifications before. Had equipped myself with adequate professional knowledge in the investigation of crime with the high-quality forensic interface, by the time I had picked up my rank as the Deputy Inspector General of Police. Bijal Joshi gang-rape case of 2002 had already resulted in the conviction of five accused for life. The case could reach conviction only because of the DNA fingerprinting resorted for the first time in a rape case in Gujarat. Had mastered the art and expertise in the application of conventional forensics.
Wildlife Crime investigation generally focuses on the application of biological forensics primarily. The Gir Lion poaching case was detected, investigated, and convicted using all the possible Forensic tools applied in a conventional crime in addition to Biological forensics. This confluence made Shri Samir Sinha craft a new vista of Convergence of Conventional Forensics and Wildlife crime forensics. Biological Forensics including DNA was being traditionally applied by the Forest Department in the investigation of Wildlife Crime which focussed on the identification and analysis of hair, bones, flesh, and blood of poached animals. In addition to the traditional Biological forensic application, the conventional Forensics tools were used by me a conventional crime investigator. Following conventional tools were used by me in this case. For the first time, conventional and modern Forensic & Psychological deception detection techniques like Polygraph, Brain-fingerprinting, and Narco-analysis were performed on the accused with the permission of the Court. The creation of a new investigation paradigm was thus opened in the Wildlife Crime investigation. A well-conceived and co-ordinated marriage took place between conventional and Wildlife crime Forensics interface for future forays in this field. A replicable model thus came into being.
6. In your opinion, how important is it for a police officer/detective to have a scientific temperament for effective policing & investigations of crimes?
According to the Crime figures shown by NCRB, the following is the Conviction rate in major offences: Murder – 44%, Rape – 34%, Kidnapping, and abduction – 36%, Rioting – 30%, and Hurt – 42%. The average National Conviction rate comes to 37% in major crimes approximately. The figure is testimony to the fact that the traditional methods adopted in crime investigation have not yielded desired results. The need is, therefore to focus more on Scientific and evidence-based investigations to enhance the conviction rate.
The changing scenario of crime and criminals does need a police officer to have a scientific temperament for effective policing. Modern cybercrime investigations are very scientific and hence the need for techno-savvy police officers to detect and investigate such new forms of crime. The higher the digitisation and computerisation, the higher will be the need for techno-savvy crime investigators. A techno-savvy police officer can not only detect, investigate and help convict an accused but also help in the prevention of the crime. Our criminal justice system is primarily based on ocular evidence which is prone to be hostile at the time of examination. Technical and Forensic evidences can stand the judicial scrutiny in favour of the prosecution. Article 51(a)(h) of the Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution, exhorts all the citizens to develop a scientific temper.
7. What are your views on the scope of Wildlife Forensics in India?
As gleaned from the success in the investigation of the Gir Sanctuary Asiatic Lion Poaching case, Wildlife Forensics needs to expand its horizons to the realm of using conventional Forensic tools too. The application of Conventional Forensics along with Biological Forensics proved to be the last nail in the coffin leading to its conviction. Reading through all the three Judgements delivered by the Hon’ble Court one will be able to find that the Hon’ble Court laid heavy reliance on Forensic Evidence collected by the police.
I find that the application of ‘Locards Principal of Exchange’ has not been applied and appreciated by the Wildlife Crime investigators. There is a need to train Forest officers in comprehensive Forensic application in their investigations. Not all Forest Crimes are investigated by the Police. The majority of Forest related crimes are investigated by the Forest officers.
It’s very heartening to find that the average conviction rate in 2020 vide the NCRB data, in Forest related crimes is to the tune of 55%, which is a high conviction rate. The average conviction rate in major body-related crimes is only 37% in 2020, vide the NCRB data. I can certainly bet that if Forensics is comprehensively applied in Forest related crimes also, then the rate can further be raised manifold. There is an acute need to have a Comprehensive Forensic Laboratory exclusively for the Forest Crimes with the Forest Department. Thorough training in comprehensive Forensics for all the Forest officers and staff is the need of the hour. It’s pertinent to mention here that the statement recorded before a Forest officer is tenable in the Court of Law and hence a high conviction rate is realized. The conviction rate will further enhance manifold if the Forest officers use comprehensive Forensics after getting a thorough training in the application of a wide spectrum of Forensics.
8. You have trained National & International Police Officers. How is it different to train Officers abroad & in India? And what are the challenges encountered by you?
I have trained more than 1000 Indian Forest officers and the Law Enforcement officers across the country (Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, UP, Delhi, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra) and abroad about 1500 officers of (Asia- Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Malaysia, Maldives, Taiwan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Philippines Africa- Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Namibia, Lesotho, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, South Sudan, Mauritius, Uganda, Togo, Cote D’ivoire, Middle East- Palestine, Iraq Eastern Europe- Bosnia- Herzegovina Oceania- Fiji, North America- Common wealth of Dominica, into the application of Forensics in general crimes and wildlife crime cases, through the case study of the Gir Asiatic Lion Poaching investigation.
The common universal observation found during the training is that officers lack in knowledge of Forensics and Forensic applications. The other weakness found was that there is an absolute dearth of professionally trained Prosecutors in the Courts. There is an acute paucity of Wildlife Crime Forensic Experts too. The Training needs should therefore be a high priority for all the three, the investigators, the prosecutors, and the Forensic Experts.
There is a variety of Forest related crimes in India due to its rich flora and fauna, hence scope to get exposure and expertise is very high in India. This canvas is limited in the Foreign countries and hence they have little exposure to Wildlife Crime as compared to Indian officers. The Foreign countries, however, score on skills and facilities for investigation, especially the Forensic facilities and the expertise available to them.
9. While working at the Police Department, you might have had numerous occasions dealing with crime scenes, victims & suspects interrogation, and dead bodies. Did it affect your personal life?
I have had numerous occasions dealing with crime scenes, victims & suspects interrogation, and dead bodies. It certainly affected my personal life initially when I joined the duty as an ASP. Gradually became immune to it as it was almost a routine affair. For example, as ASP one had to personally supervise the investigation of Unnatural Deaths of women. Several such cases were supervised by me, which necessitated close encounters with dead bodies. As per Hindu tradition if one has visited a dead body one needs to take bath after the visit. For some time I could follow the tradition but gradually I felt that it was coming in the way of my performance.
Hence had to do away with it. While handling Kandla Cyclone in 1999 and the Kutch earthquake in 2000, wherein I would have seen and handled thousands of dead bodies and their cremation with diesel and other combustible material. Ghastly crime scenes, handling dangerous criminals and suspects lingered on in the mind for a long and had an impact on the mental health.
While investigating the Jnaneswari Train Accident case as Joint Director CBI Delhi, in the year 2010 in Jhargram West Bengal, wherein 149 passengers were crushed to death while sleeping, early in the morning, the ghastly scene is still fresh in the mind. We resorted to DNA Fingerprinting of the mutilated body remains to establish the identity. We stood inside the Kolkata mortuary for eight hours to extract the best pieces from the dead body remains to get the DNA. It was possibly the biggest interaction with the dead bodies in my life. We were successful in establishing the identity of seventeen dead bodies through DNA Fingerprinting technology and handed over the remains to their relatives for the final rites. A tremendous sense of satisfaction was achieved when the State Government of West Bengal and the relatives of the deceased thanked me for helping them in closing their case and giving a final closure to the deceased.
In order to perform well professionally, the hazards enumerated above were toughening the mind and the mental state too. It requires nerves of steel and a very strong heart.
10. The police professionals are called at various scenes of crime for investigation regularly. How did you manage to indulge into research work in spite of administrative work? What challenges did you encounter while doing so?
I Graduated and Post Graduated in History from St Stephen’s College Delhi. For Research went to JNU, Centre for Historical Research for my M Phil again in History. When I joined the IPS, the legacy hounded me and always guided me to look for a deeper understanding of the issues. Maintained a diary of my experiences and observations. Couldn’t write long articles but I jotted down points always. I made power-point presentations from the year 1999 when I bought my first desktop and saved them. Possessing a laptop helped me tremendously in building my observations in due course of time.
I served in Branches like CID Crime (2002-2007 ), IGP Prisons (2007-2009), CBI Delhi and Mumbai as Joint Director ( 2010 to 2016 ), Spl Director ACB Gujarat and Director Anti-Corruption Gujarat ( 2016-2021 ) gave me ample time to indulge in intellectual exercises and academic work. These Branch postings were not having much demanding having long hours of fieldwork. I could focus in a limited way though.
I started teaching and delivering lectures on Forensics from 2000 onwards backed by my rich experience and having the data too. Post-retirement I am busy completing my Ph.D. from the National Forensic Sciences University. Propose to write a book on Application Forensics after I complete my Ph.D.
11. Police Departments all over the world are struggling with backlog cases. What can be done to minimise the pendency of cases?
Would like to draw attention to a figure for 2020 rolled out by the NCRB. A look at the figures will convince that there is a dire need to have an appraisal of all the cases filed if they need to be charge-sheeted at all! The rate of charge-sheeting in rape cases are 82% and the conviction rate is 39%, Murder – the rate of charge-sheeting is 85% and the rate of conviction is 41% and in Rioting cases, the rate of charge-sheeting is 89% and the conviction rate is 30%. The corollary is that half of the cases chrge-sheeted do not end in conviction. This certainly a big burden on the criminal justice system. The figure will stand testimony to the fact that all the cases need not be charge-sheeted for trial in the Court and it requires a change of the Charge-sheet mentality being afflicted.
Generally and traditionally in all the States registration of FIR means finally charge-sheeting the case without fail and sending the accused for trial as a routine exercise. It is the duty of the various rungs of Supervising officers to professionally appraise the evidences at hand, absolutely and apply their on the appraisal of the evidences gathered and take a call, whether to go in for charge-sheet or not or go in for an appropriate summary. It is high time to halt this trend and help reduce the burden on the Investigation officers and the Hon’ble Courts. This would require a high level of professionalism in the investigation and extremely high level of incisive supervision by the supervisory officers, which is highly wanting. Would like to highlight that in CBI all FIRs do not necessarily end in charge-sheeting. Summaries are filed in weak cases in which chances of conviction are low.
This professional strategy has resulted in a high conviction rate in the CBI. It’s the result of professionalism in investigation with the forensic interface at all steps, a high degree of incisive supervision by the various rungs of supervisory officers, and the cutting edge vetting by the Legal luminaries at the exclusive command of the CBI. No wonder the present rate of conviction in the CBI is approximately 70% as stated by the CBI Director SK Jaiswal before the top court. The CBI Director has also assured the top Court to raise the conviction rate to 75% by August 2022.
The various Police forces need to emulate this strategy of the CBI to unburden the Investigators, Courts and thereby, raise the conviction rate.
Pruning of witnesses and so-called evidences need to be resorted to. More application of mind is required to be put in by the supervisory officers in the investigation. We also need to have more Courts with minimal adjournments.
12. What is the most rewarding aspect of the job? What will be your advice to those seeking a career in Forensic Science & Policing?
The most rewarding aspect of the Police job is delivering instant justice to the victim by the just use of power one is endowed with. Have umpteen instances where I could save the lives of so many people facing dangerous situations in their lives during the Kutch earthquake (2000) and the Kandla Cyclone (1999). Nothing is more rewarding than saving human lives.
Getting 58 accused convicted through the use of Forensics and professional investigation, in my career of 35 years, is my biggest achievement as a Police officer. Very many cases are now on the Judgement stage which assures me to enhanced my conviction figure.
My advice to the budding police officers is to take a keen interest in Forensics to become an extra effective Police officer in an extraordinary way. Most of the inputs given to a Police officer during the probationary days are constant in content like IPC, CrPC, IEA, and various other Major and Minor Acts. It’s only Forensics that value adds to the expertise as an investigator and makes investigation an Art.
Forensics adds a rich flavour of creativity to the investigation. I coined a new area of ‘Fusion Forensics’, wherein two different Branches of Forensics are used to get an opinion, and inevitably the opinions match, thereby value-adding to an exhibit’s potential to be used differently and fortifying its forensic potential. This is what I call, “Creative Forensics” wherein we play with the exhibits very creatively. Application of Forensics is an art. All the Scientific Investigation tools are scientific in nature, but their use is an art. Being a student of Humanities, see the investigation as a Creative form of Art to deliver justice. My case studies of successful cases which ended in conviction are full of such forays into creativity in Forensics as an art form.
I dedicate my success as a Police officer to all those Forensic Experts who stood by me like a rock and guided me into the professional investigation with Forensic Interface leading to a conviction. I see a very strong future for Forensics as the Hon’ble PM and the Home Minister are rooted in strengthening Forensics. Please note that the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Narendra Modi established the first Forensic University in the world in Gujarat – Gujarat Forensic Sciences University. It’s now been upgraded to the National level and named National Forensic Sciences University with new Branches in Goa and Tripura. This is going to have a huge impact on the Forensic field by rolling out hundreds of Forensic experts every year to fill the gap of vacancies in the Forensic Departments all over the country, thereby raising the bar of Forensic application at an all India level. The budding Forensic Experts and Police officers need to reap a rich harvest from this golden opportunity thrown open by the present Government. It will help raise the standard of investigation overall.
13. Do you still wish to explore and contribute to the field of policing & forensics? How?
I have decided to devote my retired life to the cause of Forensics teaching, training, and improving the standard of criminal investigation overall. Wish to kindle a crusade to promote maximum usage of Forensics knowledge & application in all criminal investigations at an All India level, among the Police Forces and the Law Enforcement Agencies.
Have been training Law Enforcement officers all over the country and abroad in Forensic applications in crime investigations. Have been appointed as Professor of Eminence at the National Forensic Sciences University Gujarat and as Emeritus Resource Faculty at the Rashtriya Raksha University, Gujarat wish to continue my mission.
It’s my passion and mission with a vision to improve the image of the Police in the eyes of the public by raising the conviction rate through the application of Forensic tools and scientific evidence-based investigation. Help me and guide me to spread the message of maximum application of Forensics to improve the overall conviction rate and the image of the police. Overall, the average conviction rate in India for major crimes is as low as 37% only. The challenge is the rest 63% of the cases for all of us.
There is a huge scope of work in this field which is unexplored. Let’s enhance it by using maximum Forensics. It’s very heartening to find both Hon’ble PM and HM rooting the cause of Forensics in a big way. I think the right time has just come. The iron is hot.
The other emerging area is the use of Preventive Forensics in Non-Criminal (business, industrial & private individual) cases. Trying to focus more on this emerging area.
Think Forensics, think beyond. Let Forensics be a game-changer. Let Forensics be intrinsic to Policing. Wish to do my bit. Post covid, I am the ‘Forensic Warrior’