Nigerian national Michael Okafor has approached the Bombay High Court’s Goa bench, seeking to direct the state to operationalize the state’s forensic laboratory which was to set up back in 2013.
Michael Okafor was arrested on October 19, 2019, with substances suspected to be LSD of a quantity little less than one gram. Advocate K Poulekar was the counsel for Michael Okafor.
Advocate K Poulekar contended that the forensic laboratory was to be operational in Goa in 2013. At present, the laboratory can only test for ganja and charas. He further argued a majority of substances that are usually seized by the Goa police in narcotics raids include Ecstasy, LSD, MDMA, and cocaine cannot be tested in the state and samples are sent to the CFSL Laboratory in Hyderabad and it takes more than a year to receive the report. This state of affairs delays the trial and takes four to five years to complete which is around half the sentence and if they are acquitted after the trial, who will give them their life back was the question put forward by advocate K Poulekar. The High Court bench of Justice MS Sonak & Justice MS Jawalkar agreed with the petition to direct the state to operationalize the state’s forensic laboratory. The Bombay High Court’s Goa bench has pulled up the Goa government for the “sorry state of affairs” which it said affected “the rights of the accused persons to a speedy trial which is one of the aspects of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The high court held that there is absolutely no explanation as to why since the establishment of the Goa Forensic Science Laboratory (GFSL) in 2013 no efforts were made to procure the standard samples. The court further called out the state as to why procurement of such standard samples which we were informed would cost the state government an amount hardly Rs 25 lakh or thereabouts took so long and still taking so long. The court clearly stated that for the present at least it would not like to accept that this delay is deliberate and for extraneous considerations but if such a position continues further probes will become necessary. The Bombay High court has directed the government to make the lab operational within a period of three months.