Forensic team did not collect Sushant Singh Rajput's finger swabs, nails

Updated: 05 August, 2020 10:25 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Clippings of fingernails and other evidence from the body could have helped clear the air around whether there was any foul play in the case

Sushant Singh Rajput
Sushant Singh Rajput

Crucial finger swabs and nail clippings of Sushant Singh Rajput were not collected by the team of forensic surgeons during the actor's autopsy on June 14 at Cooper Hospital after he allegedly hanged himself. Sources said these, and dust particles from the ceiling fan and on the cloth he used to hang himself, both could have helped rule out foul play.

This swab could have indicated if dust particles from the ceiling fan were present on Sushant's fingers. This would have cleared the ambiguity over foul play," said a forensic surgeon from a city medical college on condition of anonymity.

Police outside Sushant Singh Rajput's residence on June 14. Pic/Shadab Khan
Police outside Sushant Singh Rajput's residence on June 14. Pic/Shadab Khan

The surgeon explained, "The dust particles would have been on the cloth used for hanging, on the ceiling fan and fingertips. Type of dust particles on all would have offered a clue. Even if the fingertips did not have dust, the cloth and fan would surely have had."

Also Read: Sushant Singh Rajput did not commit suicide, he was murdered, says Narayan Rane

Need a mix of experts
Medico-legal experts are of the opinion that instead of having five forensic surgeons to conduct the autopsy in high profile cases it is advisable to have a mix of professionals such as a forensic surgeon, pathologist, an expert from the State Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), etc. The police surgeon, who is also the medico-legal advisor to the state, was not approached or contacted by the investigating police team for forensic advice. Also, no fingerprint expert was present during the forensic team's visit on June 16. The same team of forensic surgeons conducted Sushant's autopsy at Cooper hospital in Andheri.

Police outside Sushant's residence on the day he died. Pic/Shadab Khan
Police outside Sushant's residence on the day he died. Pic/Shadab Khan

"The forensic surgeons/scientists could have asked to take specific fingerprints, which a fingerprint expert may miss out on as every crime scene is different. An analysis of the same by a forensic surgeon and forensic scientist usually helps gather more evidence," the surgeon said.

Better coordination must
Experts explained that there should have been better coordination between various departments such as forensic medicine, fingerprints, photography, etc. to ensure a watertight evaluation of the crime scene, with solid direct and indirect evidence. The collective presence of all experts can help analyse and preserve evidence better.

Sushant Singh Rajput. Pic/Getty Images
Sushant Singh Rajput. Pic/Getty Images

The five-member team that conducted Sushant's autopsy had four forensic surgeons from the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, HBT Medical College and Dr R N Cooper Municipal Hospital and one from the hospital's post-mortem centre, working under police surgeon Dr S M Patil. Dr Patil told mid-day, "We have divided the week's work between the postmortem centre and the HBT Medical College's Department of Forensic Medicine. On the day Sushant's autopsy was conducted, it was the HBT team's turn to be on duty and the doctor at the postmortem centre at Cooper hospital was asked to join." A senior police officer refused to comment on the matter.

Autopsy findings
Forensic sources revealed that Sushant's autopsy on June 14 was recorded for future reference. A physical examination of the body showed no external injuries. Forensic surgeons used adhesive tape on the ligature mark on the neck for fibre estimation. This is usually done to identify the cloth used for hanging. However, no nail clippings were preserved as they were not requested by the police. They could have helped rule out scuffles.

The FSL, Kalina's analysis of the viscera and blood sample for presence of drugs or other intoxicants has returned negative. The team of forensic surgeons will be submitting their final cause of death report to the police soon.

Also Read: Mumbai Police names Grant Thornton as forensic auditor in Sushant Singh Rajput case

Disha's sample to be tested
Senior police officers wrote to the State FSL on Monday for an analysis of the viscera of Disha Salian, Sushant's former manager who also died by suicide on June 8. Her viscera and blood sample were preserved to test for intoxication, and swabs were collected to rule out sexual assault. The preliminary reason for her death was given as "head injury with multiple injuries (unnatural)".

Former Director of State FSL, Dr Rukmini Krishnamurthy, said, "The immediate presence of forensic science and forensic medicine personnel at the crime scene helps identify minute evidential value particles, thereby giving a scientific lead to the investigation, which is admissible in the court of law."

"Globally, it is the requirement of good practice to call the scientific team immediately after the crime so that no evidence is tampered with," she added.

"In Sushant's case, had the police protected the crime scene, and ensured that the FSL team and forensic surgeons first visit the spot, they would have together gained valuable evidence. Better coordination between police, forensic surgeons, and FSL scientists, make a lot of difference," Dr Krishnamurthy said.

5
No. of forensic surgeons in the team that visited the actor's residence

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First Published: 05 August, 2020 07:01 IST

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