Forensic expert suggests 'homicidal hanging' could have killed Jiah Khan
With post mortem results indicating that the actress' death may not have been a case of suicide, her mother Rabiya roped in Dr R K Sharma, who has found some shocking lapses in the sample preservation and analysis, and raised serious doubts over the alleged cause of death
Findings by the Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) add weight to claims made by Jiah Khan’s mother Rabiya that her daughter was murdered, and did not commit suicide. Three months after the report was submitted to the Juhu police, the officials still haven’t sought clarifications from the FSL on their findings.
According to the report, experts at FSL received nail clippings from Jiah’s right and left hands after she was found hanging in her Juhu flat on June 3. The autopsy was conducted at JJ Post Mortem Centre on June 4, and subsequently the samples were sent for testing on June 5 to FSL. In their report dated August 16, the experts pointed out that they had found bloodstains on the nail samples from both hands. Human tissue matter was also detected. The group of the blood obtained from the nail samples, however, could not be determined.
Armed with these findings, Rabiya Khan, Jiah’s mother approached an independent forensic expert, Prof (Dr) R K Sharma, who is president of the Indian Association of Medico Legal Experts and former head of the department of forensic medicine and toxicology in AIIMS, Delhi. Sharma has raised serious doubts over the suicide and in his interim report has concluded that ‘homicidal hanging in this case may be a strong possibility’.
Pointing out grievous lapses in the way in which the samples were tested and preserved, he has asked to watch the video recording of the autopsy conducted at JJ Postmortem Centre, before submitting his final report.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Rabiya Khan said, “My daughter was definitely murdered and the police have hidden the facts – this is ultimate proof that somebody else was involved and killed her. Why didn’t the forensics experts examine the DNA on the human tissue found in her nails, to ascertain whose it was?”
Rabiya’s lawyer Dinesh Tiwari added, “We received the FSL report a fortnight ago, and the same was sent to Dr Sharma for his expert opinion. His findings have raised serious concerns for us and accordingly we have written a letter to FSL, Kalina asking them not to destroy the samples collected from Jiah that were sent to them for testing.”
Tiwari added, “We are moving court soon and would plead to the court to allow us to get a copy of the video recording of the autopsy. Also, if the need arises, we may even insist on the exhumation of the corpse.” Arun Shankarrao Bhagat, senior police inspector from Juhu police station, said, “I cannot comment on this case at this moment as I am on bandobast duty. I cannot say anything unless I go through the case papers.” Additional Commissioner of Police (western region) Vishwas Nangre Patil said, “I will find out from the concerned officers about the same.”
Dr R K Sharma's observations:
The following points need special mention:
>> The contusion, which is very clearly shown in photographs on the left arm posterior aspect, (approx size 5x3 cm) is not mentioned in the post mortem report
>> Eyes closed, tongue inside, conjunctiva pale and absence of saliva are NOT signs of asphyxia
>> Two abraded ecchymosis [a black-and-blue or purple spot] (size of 0.3 cm) on the lower lip were not cut to know freshness and extent
>> Both lungs were congested and collapsed. This is not a feature of asphyxia. Weight of lungs is not mentioned, which is very crucial.
>> Since in this case alcohol has been detected in high concentration in the stomach, doctors who conducted post-mortem failed to notice any smell.
Report on viscera and other biological samples
The following points need special mention:
The concentration of alcohol keeps on decreasing day by day as alcohol is volatile, and no special preservation technique or preservative like sodium fluoride was used in this case; it can be safely assumed that alcohol concentration in viscera, tissues and blood would be significantly higher on date of incident (June 3). It took 18 days to analyse the samples, a process that normally takes not more than 4-6 hours.
Examination of nail clippings showed human tissue that was analysed for blood grouping, which has no significance as we have better techniques available like DNA fingerprinting. Why were the samples destroyed when they yielded results of human tissue? It is a gross lapse on part of FSL. It took 39 days to analyse samples, which also put this report in serious doubt.
Blood took 39 days to analyse, just to determine the blood group, and they could not do Rh factor test. It is just appalling.
It takes five minutes to do this test.
>> Post-mortem examination was not done properly, as injuries on the body are missed out. It is essential to examine video recordings to appreciate injuries present on the body
>> The deceased was incapacitated because of high alcohol concentration in her body
>> Presence of injuries may be reflective of struggle, or person holding her tightly for suspension
>> In such circumstances, it is possible for an able bodied person to hang an incapacitated person.
>> Investigations at FSL are not done properly as per scientific procedure. Non-submission of nail clippings for DNA analysis is a grave error. Destruction of sample is not acceptable.
>> It is very essential to examine a video–recording of the post mortem examination to reach the correct cause of death. Homicidal hanging in this case may be a strong possibility.
>> I will submit my final report after examination of video recording.
Dr RK Sharma’s observations:
>> A contusion on left arm, visible in photographs, is not mentioned in post-mortem report
>> Eyes closed, tongue inside mouth and absence of saliva are not signs of asphyxia
>> Both lungs were congested and collapsed. This is not a feature of asphyxia
>> The deceased was incapacitated because of high alcohol concentration present in body
>> Presence of injuries may be reflective of struggle/holding person tightly for suspension
>> In such circumstances, it is possible for an able-bodied person to hang an incapacitated person
Autopsy of Jiah Khan conducted at JJ mortuary
Nail clippings sent to Kalina FSL for testing
FSL report submitted to the police, stating human tissue matter and blood detected in nail samples
The other side
A senior official from the biological division of FSL clarified, “The samples collected at the post mortem centre were not taken properly, as the nail was clipped along with the skin. On our examination, we found that the human tissue was that of the deceased, and hence even the DNA reports were inconclusive. Also, the blood stain on the nails matched with that of the deceased, as her blood group was A.”