The Delhi High Court has questioned the conduct of some police investigators in the Jessica Lall murder case. The critical remarks indicate that the court, despite the conviction, could proceed against the officers guilty of deliberate lapses and conniving with the accused.
Indicting the investigators, paragraph 55 of the judgment states, “the very fact that the empties were sent for examination at such a belated stage, cannot rule out foul play to destroy the prosecution’s case.”
The court’s observations came on one of the most controversial aspect of the case, relating to allegations of tampering of cartridges by the police.
Even the initial police status report to the high court focused on this lapse.
The report said two empty .22 bore cartridges had been recovered from the crime scene on April 30, 1999. The police informed the Central Forensic Laboratory about the cartridges on June 25, 1999 and sent them for examination on July 19.
The police report said “the exhibits were deposited in the CFSL after a delay of two-and-a-half months. This delay and inclusion of certain questions in the request letter for seeking opinion of the CFSL is suggestive of the possibility of two weapons, particularly when the FIR mentions the use of only one weapon.”
It added that the further delay in collecting the CFSL results showed “that this important part of the investigation was allowed to drift for unknown reasons. The Delhi Police had also raised doubts about its own investigations. The fresh FIR of tampering and destruction of evidence on March 6 said, “evidence of the commission of the offences, investigated by the police, was tampered to screen the offenders from legal punishment. It has transpired subsequently that some of the evidence was not produced before the court.”
The FIR also said “the efforts to save the accused through various acts of omission and commission by some officers, by illegal means, have taken place on several occasions clearly indicating it to be part of a criminal conspiracy. The criminal conspiracy was aimed at obstructing and deflecting the course of justice.”