This article 'Admissibility of Forensic Evidence in Courts' delves into the various factors that influence the admissibility of forensic evidence in court proceedings.

This article 'Admissibility of Forensic Evidence in Courts' delves into the various factors that influence the admissibility of forensic evidence in court proceedings.

This article explores the criteria for the admissibility of forensic evidence, including the Daubert and Frye standards, which are employed by courts to evaluate the scientific validity and methodology of forensic techniques.


Science has evolved into an essential element of our daily lives in the modern age. Every aspect of our lives is directly or indirectly tied to science. Science has additionally grown into an essential component of the legal and criminal justice systems. The courts have often stated in numerous judgments how scientific evidence plays an everlasting role in legal proceedings. When a challenge is brought before the court, forensic evidence plays a significant role. They have now become a vital element of our criminal justice system as a whole, and with the advancement of technology, they are now assisting courts in dealing with complex situations.

Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 defines the term “evidence” to mean and encompass both oral and documentary evidence. There are numerous types of evidence utilized in a criminal prosecution. Scientific and forensic evidence are used for various investigative processes. Blood, hair, fingerprints, shoeprints, and other physical evidence are significant in proving a case since they are based on knowledge obtained through the scientific process.

Role of Forensic Evidence and Its Admissibility

The adoption of forensic evidence in India’s criminal justice system has grown dramatically in recent years. This is due to a growing understanding of the significance of scientific proof during criminal investigations, as well as the construction of specialized forensic testing facilities around the country. The Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) is India’s leading forensic laboratory, with regional units throughout the country. In India, forensic evidence is critical in criminal investigations. It aids in the identification of suspects, the establishment of facts in a case, and the linking of perpetrators at the crime scene. In homicide cases, forensic proof can also be utilized to support or disprove the testimony of witnesses and to determine the root of the demise. In criminal cases, the utilization of forensic evidence has been critical to making sure that the accused are convicted and those who are innocent are acquitted.

The admissibility of forensic evidence in court depends on various factors, including its relevance, reliability, and authenticity. When evidence is thought to be important, a court of law examines its legitimacy, transparency, and accuracy. The court of law can reach better conclusions by using this evidence.

Legal Framework for Admissibility

Expert testimony has been discussed as admissible in the case of Frye case and in the Daubert case the federal judges have been empowered to check the reliability of expert testimony

The two major guiding principles are contained in two important cases: Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923), and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), both decided by the United States Supreme Court. The federal judiciary system adopts Daubert exclusively, although state courts can choose between these two options.

1. The Fyre Standard

In Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923), the basic premise provides that an opinion of an expert is admitted if the scientific approach on which the view is based is generally accepted for accuracy in the appropriate community of scientists. In Frye, the circuit itself upheld the trial court’s decision to include expert testimony about the use of lie detectors. The systolic blood pressure test was thought to have “not yet gained such standing and scientific acceptability among physiological and psychological authorities.” The Frye standard, also known as the “general acceptance” test, is accurately stated as:

It is difficult to say when a scientific theory or discovery crosses the border that separates the experimental and demonstrative stages. The evidential effect of the theory must be acknowledged somewhere within this twilight range, and while courts will go far in accepting expert testimony concluded from an established scientific concept or discovery, the fact from which the deductive reasoning is made should be sufficiently well-established to have acquired general acceptance within the specific field where it belongs to.

2. The Daubert Standard

The Supreme Court successfully tossed Frye in federal courts in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), stating as the case law was incompatible with all relevant evidentiary rules, notably the Court decided in Daubert that Rule 702’s twin standards of relevancy and dependability are incompatible with the more stringent “general acceptance” requirement.

The Court highlighted the significance of a trial judge’s “gatekeeping responsibility” when allowing expert testimony and identified a non-exhaustive list of issues to consider, including:

  • Whether an expert’s approach or research can be examined and assessed for dependability,
  • Whether the approach or research that has been subject to review by others and publication as well as
  • The acknowledged or interest rate of error of the approach or theory,
  • The continued existence and upkeep of standards and guidelines, and
  • The existence and preservation of standards and guidelines.

The Court advocated a more permissive technique for accepting expert testimony under this new standard, emphasizing the significance of submitting witnesses to be thoroughly cross-examined.

Admissibility of Forensic Evidence in Courts

Sections 45 to 51 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 address the relevance of an expert’s opinion in a case. According to the Act, only facts individually familiar to a witness may be used as evidence. These provisions, however, are exceptions to the general rule. It is founded on the idea that the court cannot make an opinion or reach a result on a technically complex and sophisticated topic without the advice and assistance of a person with exceptional ability and experience in that area. An ‘Expert’ is someone who has extensive knowledge and competence in a specific field. Medical.

When it comes to the admission of expert evidence, the judicial system around the world faces numerous obstacles. The judges are not normally expected to have special scientific expertise, and as a result, they are not expected to generate independent opinions on scientific topics, especially social sciences comprising complicated quantitative and qualitative assessments. As a result, the courts employ experts who, via their expertise or training, might offer explanations that can be relied on in making decisions. For decades, the question of admission of expert evidence has been the ‘talk of the town’ in the United States and around the world.

The expert witness’s testimony must meet the following criteria:

  • The witness should be designated as an expert.
  • The expert comments or reports have to satisfy minimum dependability criteria.
  • The expert opinions are pertinent and probative;
  • The information contained in expert statements is within the expert witness’s accepted expertise.

Section 293(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 provides that if the Court deems it necessary, it may summon and interview an expert on the topic of his report, namely:

a) Any Government Chemical Inspector / Asst. Chemical Inspector,

b) The Chief Explosives Controller,

c) The Fingerprint Bureau Director,

d) The Haffkein Institute’s Director in Bombay,

e) The Director, Deputy Director, or Assistant Director of the Central and State Forensic Science Laboratories,

f) The Government Serologist,

g) Any other Government Scientific Experts named in a Central Government notification.

Forensic Expert Witness

Sections 45 to 51 of Chapter II of the Indian Evidence Act provide for the relevance of third-party opinion, which is generally referred to in our everyday activity as expert opinion. These rules are an exception to the fundamental principle that testimony should only be presented of facts that a witness is aware of. The exception is founded on the idea that the court cannot form a conclusion on subjects that are technically complex and professionally sophisticated without the help of people who have specialized knowledge and expertise in those areas.

A person with particular expertise who is going to testify in court is known as an expert witness. Expert witnesses can deliver an opinion in accordance with the special skills and expertise they possess. An expert witness is utilized when an expert’s opinion is required to help and settle the matter.

The following conditions must be met in order for an expert opinion to be accepted:

a) That the issue cannot be resolved in the absence of expert advice; and

b) That the witness presenting the opinion is, in fact, an expert.

The provisions of section 45 of The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 define an expert. The court requires an expert to render an opinion on:

  • International law
  • Science and the Arts
  • Handwriting Identification
  • Finger impression identification
  • Evidence obtained using electronic means

Only in the above-mentioned fields is an individual’s opinion recognized as an expert opinion. When an expert provides a viewpoint, it is regarded as a relevant fact in the case. An expert has dedicated his time to acquiring a certain field of knowledge and is thus uniquely proficient in that field. It could include Superior knowledge and hands-on experience.

In what way does Forensic Evidence contribute to Investigations?

Forensic evidence is critical in establishing a scientific foundation for investigations and is frequently the deciding factor in solving crimes and delivering justice. It aids in the identification of suspects or victims by using techniques including analysis of fingerprints, profiling of DNA, and dental data. Forensic evidence can construct a timeline of events, which is critical for understanding the progression of a crime. It aids in the reconstruction of crime scenes, which allows investigators to gain a greater understanding of how and why a crime happened. In circumstances of mysterious deaths, forensic evidence such as autopsies and toxicology analyses can help determine the cause of death. It aids in the recognition of patterns and linkages in criminal conduct, which can be helpful in connecting instances and identifying repeated offenders.

Forensic ballistics can identify the form of firearm applied, link bullets and shells to specific guns, and provide information about shot direction. Digital evidence like as messages via text, email, and data from computers plays an important role in investigations in the digital age. It aids in the identification and linking of physical objects such as fibres, hair, and dirt to specific persons or locations. Documents and signatures can be authenticated using analysis of handwriting and document scrutiny. In court, forensic experts may offer expert testimony, assisting judges and jurors in understanding complex scientific evidence.

Case Laws

Magan Bihari Lal v. State of Punjab (1977)

It is a well-known case in which the Supreme Court overturned and set aside the verdict based on expert identification of the handwriting. The Supreme Court stated that expert advice should be treated with caution.

Ramesh Chandra Agrawal v. Regency Hospital Ltd. & Ors (2009)

The court held that the initial and most significant criteria enabling expert evidence to get admitted is the requirement that the expert evidence be heard. The examination is that the subject is beyond the layperson’s understanding and experience.

Mohan Singh v. State of Punjab (1975)

In this case, it was held that it should be remembered that the ballistics expert’s view can only be considered after he has provided the report. In the scenario when the expert delivers his or her opinion only based on a photograph of the injuries, the court refuses to rely on it.

Field v.Leeds City Council (1999)

The court decided that the evidence supplied by specialists and highly competent individuals must be neutral in nature and relevant to the matter at hand. It also determined that no lawyer could have presented the evidence. They provide data which is outside the scope of the judge, allowing them to make an informed conclusion. Despite the fact that the court has the authority to approve or disapprove the evidence supplied by the experts through numerous examinations. These experts just have the authority to provide opinions, not to make final decisions in the ongoing procedures.


The major reason for utilizing forensic science to provide evidence is to ensure fair justice. This takes place so that the exact offence, rather than the innocent person, is punished. In numerous instances, forensic evidence always helped in identifying the actual perpetrator, who is then punished by the court. The value of forensic evidence exceeds that of common evidence produced in court. Though it is quite unusual that there are faults in the evidence. More experts deserve to be honoured for consistently supplying data as well as relevant evidence about the case, allowing the case to be resolved on this foundation. More progress in the country can be achieved by expanding our forensic science.


[1] Role of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Justice Delivery System in India, Available Here

[2] Daubert vs. Frye: Navigating the Standards of Admissibility for Expert Testimony, Available Here

[3] Admissibility of Forensic Evidence, Available Here

[4] Law of Forensic Evidence in India and Abroad: A Comparative Study, Available Here

[5] Indian Evidence Act, 1872

[6] Code of Criminal Procedure,1973

[7] Magan Bihari Lal v. State of Punjab, 1977 AIR 1091

[8] Ramesh Chandra Agrawal v. Regency Hospital Ltd. & Ors., (2009) 9 SCC 709

[9] Mohan Singh v. State of Punjab AIR 1975 SC 2161

[10] Field v. Leeds City Council, [1999] EWCA Civ 3013

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Laiba Tahreem

Laiba Tahreem

A final year humanities student of Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi

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