Live to bungle another day
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Live to bungle another day

Fix responsibility on those who mishandled crucial evidence in the Aarushi Talwar case

india Updated: Dec 30, 2010 23:33 IST

An unseen hand seems to have subverted the evidence at each stage of the Aarushi Talwar murder investigation. This suggests that a sinister motive was behind a seemingly massive effort to ensure that the truth never comes out. A more prosaic theory would be that the investigative agencies starting with the Noida police simply don’t know the first thing about forensics or that it just did not exert itself knowing that it would not be held accountable. From the fateful morning on which Aarushi’s body was found, the police did not put one foot right. It jumped to the conclusion that she had been done in by the domestic help, who was himself found murdered. It allowed all and sundry to trample around the crime scene. It was not able to preserve the fingerprints taken from the site, a bloody handprint was not taken as evidence, the murdered girl’s vaginal swabs were mysteriously swapped.

As we have seen in other sensational crimes like the Nithari killings, there is no system in place that will ensure that the investigative agencies secure the maximum number of clues. Certainly, in the Aarushi case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has not covered itself in glory. But, it is passing strange that not a single officer from the Noida police, the first on the scene of the crime, has been held accountable for the inexcusable bungling in the case. On the contrary, armed with virtually no evidence which could stand up in a court of law, the police were quick to feed the media with all manners of speculative theories, including that Aarushi’s father was the killer. Given that the case involves a young child, emotions are bound to run high. However, the law can only operate on the basis of sound forensics and unimpeachable evidence, both of which are missing in this case and many others like it. Surely, at least now a set of rules can be framed on how to collect evidence with the proviso that those found violating them will pay a price. For example, even now it would not be difficult to find out who was in charge of the medical evidence like the swabs. What, if anything, was the explanation for how they were changed? Who was in charge of the fingerprints, most of which got wasted?

If we could affix responsibility for these gross oversights, it would set a precedent for future investigations. With no

evidence to speak of, it may also be asked why it took the CBI so long to tell us that it had achieved nothing. Closing a case like this does not amount to closure for those fighting for justice for the child. There are too many painful questions hanging fire, the most pertinent being those about the efficiency and accountability of those in charge of the foundations of the investigative system.

First Published: Dec 30, 2010 23:32 IST