Software expires, central forensic lab can’t examine seized phones

The licence for the software used by Central Forensic Laboratory, Delhi to conduct forensic analysis of mobile phones seized by agencies expired in March disrupting the examination of these phones and delaying the submission of evidence, officials said.

The laboratory, which once worked under the supervision of the CBI but is now under the domain of Directorate of Forensic Science, is having a tough time due to burgeoning pending cases in the absence of the crucial software used for SIM data extraction, they said.

Questions sent to CFSL director Rajiv Giroti and Directorate of Forensic Sciences remained unanswered.

The computer forensic division of the laboratory has 256 pending cases, including some significant ones like the National Stock Exchange case where it has to submit reports to various courts, according to the latest data.

The laboratory, which receives around 2,000 cases annually from agencies across the country, has expressed its helplessness in furnishing reports to the courts regarding forensic examination of seized phones, claiming that the licence of the software used by it to extract SIM data and other crucial information from phones expired on March 20, the officials said.

Scientists at the laboratory have expressed their inability to give any assurance to courts on the time taken for the renewal of the software licence.

In its submission to a special court recently, an assistant director of CFSL Delhi said, “Licence of the software used for mobile device including SIM data extraction/examination has expired on March 20, 2023 and examination of mobile phones can be undertaken only after renewal of licence of the mobile phone data extraction software and time to be taken for renewal of licence of software is exactly not known.”

Seeing the helplessness of the laboratory, a special court had recently directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to collect samples of NSE cases from the CFSL, Delhi and send it to other forensic labs across the country, the officials said.

The CFSL undertakes the scientific analysis of crime exhibits referred by CBI, Delhi Police, judiciary and vigilance jurisdiction, departments of ministries and undertakings and state and central government departments.

“The experts of CFSL examine the exhibits forwarded by the investigating agencies and render expert opinion and substantiate their opinions in the court of law through court testimony and evidence. Services of the scientific experts of this laboratory are also utilized at the scene of crime throughout India for detection of physical clues,” the annual report of the Union home ministry said.

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