Elgar Parishad: Verification of e-documents underway at special court
The judge of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) court, which is hearing the Elgar Parishad case, had called for an expert on behalf of the accused to verify the veracity of the electronic documents provided to the accused, on Tuesday.
The process on Tuesday began at 12:40pm in a separate room at the district court premises. However, it was stopped midway due to the opposition raised by the defence and resumed at 3pm. The representatives of the accused have alleged that the verification process was not carried out in a “technically sound manner” and suggested use of Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA) and MD5 (Message Digest5) methods to do so. Message digest 5 (MD5) and SHA are algorithms used to check the integrity of the information as a content of the document. The court, however, has passed an order stating that such verification of evidence can be done during trial and not before.
When approached for a comment, investigating officer assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Shivaji Pawar and prosecutor district government pleader (DGP) Ujjwala Pawar, both refused to comment. DGP Pawar also prevented the media from entering an open court.
Computer scientist Supratik Chakraborty, a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Powai, along with advocate Gaurav Jachak, legal representative of one of the accused Rona Wilson were among the people present in a closed-door process of document verification. Others present were two of the accused Surendra Gadling and Arun Ferriera, representing themselves; DGP Pawar; ACP Pawar; three members of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) team, and additional sessions judge SR Navander.
“The entire case is based on electronic documents and the authenticity of the case depends on it. After the seizure, the documents were copied and what we are being provided is the copy of that copy. We are seeking the hash value of the documents seized from the accused to be matched with the hash value of the documents submitted to us,” said advocate Jachak.
Advocate Siddharth Patil, also a defence lawyer in the case, seconded the argument. To this, on an earlier occasion, ACP Pawar had said that the chargesheet filed in the case contains the hash value of the documents before they were cloned.
“They are comparing the memory of the two hard disks when we are asking for the contents to be verified,” said advocate Susan Abraham, wife of accused activist Vernon Gonsalves, describing the happenings of the morning session.
Later, an application was filed by the defence lawyers of all accused demanding that the documents be verified using the methods suggested by them as well as the expert. DGP Pawar is expected to submit her say on the application during the next hearing in the case on January 27.