The judgment in the Jyoti murder case acquitting Congress legislator from Doon in Himachal, Ram Kumar Chaudhary, and all other 11 accused, has brought the role of investigating officer DSP Virender Sangwan under scanner, even though he was removed from the case after the first charge-sheet in April 2013.
In her 80-page judgment, additional district and sessions judge Roopam Singh pointed out several faults. HT details the causes of the case falling flat.
On Mobile tower location certification
The police relied on mobile tower location. However, the court found that two of the exhibits of the Call Detail Records (CDRs) couldn’t be admitted under the Indian Evidence Act as no certification regarding these was given by the nodal officer of Airtel, Davinder Verma. This led the court to conclude that tower location details couldn’t be relied upon.
On Recoveries from houses of accused
The order says that the case of prosecution in regard to the recoveries of mobile phones with SIM cards ‘has become doubtful because neither entry regarding his visit in Baddi was made by the investigating officer (DSP Virender Sangwan) at the local police station nor any police official was joined therefrom’.
It added that DSP Virender Sangwan had admitted during cross-examination that many neighbours had gathered on the spot at the time of their visit to the house of accused Dharam Pal.
“One fails to understand that why not even an effort was made to join independent witnesses, despite their availability,” says the judgment. ASI Jai Singh who prepared the site plans of the houses refused to own them in the court.
On issuance of SIM cards on fake ID
On the issue of providing SIM cards to Chaudhary for use in the crime, on fake identities of Manoj and Suresh, the court opined that “the prosecution was duty bound to obtain specimen/admitted signatures of PW2 (Manoj) as well as PW9 (Suresh) and get them compared with their alleged forged signatures available on original consumer application forms, by an expert, to rule out their involvement”. It added, “Not only, the IO (DSP Virender Sangwan) failed to do the required but also, there is nothing on record that he himself had ever made any such comparison.”
The court pointed out that till today the numbers had not been deactivated. “Meaning that Airtel had not found any hanky-panky in the CAFs…” concludes court.
Relationship between Jyoti and Chaudhary
On the recording of statements of Jyoti’s father Butti Ram and sister Ishu Rani on the illicit relationship between Chaudhary and the victim before police on April 18, 2012, the court opined, “It is strange that the real sister and father of Jyoti kept mum and withheld this material information for five months though, they knew that accused Ram Kumar, along with others, had murdered her sister/his daughter on account of apprehension that she was becoming threat to his reputation(on account of illicit relations between the two).”
On the picture of Chaudhary at Ishu’s wedding, the court commented that both Ishu and Butti Ram, though identified the MLA, but gave different versions on the identity of the fourth person. The picture had Ishu, her husband, Chaudhary and another person. The judge also pointed out that Dr Gurjeet Kaur and Dr Aditi Gupta of Jindal Nursing Home did not also identify Chaudhary. As per the police, Chaudhary had taken Jyoti to the nursing home for abortion.
“The last two calls made by Jyoti on November 21, 2012, from her mobile, were on 9855972358 at 9:13 pm and on 8968967451 at 9:15 pm but, neither of users of the said mobile numbers were contacted by the investigating officer Varinder Sangwan, as admitted by him during cross- examination.
Undisputedly, users of above said two mobile numbers were one of the most material piece of evidence in solving the mystery of murder of Jyoti.” Varinder Sangwan admitting before the court that it did not come to his mind to contact above said two users, is definitely pointing fingers on the investigation, said the court.
“The prosecution’s case is self-contradictory because on one hand, it is contended that all the four accused namely accused Ram Kumar, Dharam Pal, Gurmeet Singh and Paramjit were together in one car in the night of November 21, 2013, on the other hand, it is also contended that they kept on calling each other through the respective mobile numbers being used by them. Both the situations could not have co-existed,” says the court.