Mumbai: Experts raise doubts over handling of crucial proof - Disha Salian's clothes
Two months after the late actor Sushant Singh's ex-manager died, cops hand over a T-shirt and pants, claiming she wore on the fateful night to Kalina FSL
Almost two months after Disha Salian allegedly killed herself, Malvani police on Monday finally handed over the clothes, claiming she was wearing on the fateful night to the state Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) at Kalina. However, experts suspect any evidence could be found on the clothes as they were submitted so late.
Salian, the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s former manager, allegedly jumped off the Regent Galaxy, a high-rise in Malad, on June 8 night. The 28-year-old was rushed to Shatabdi Hospital but was declared dead before admission. mid-day had, in its August 6 report, highlighted serious forensic lapses, viz no crime scene visited by forensic surgeon, no nail clipping preserved, no vide/photo of autopsy taken, nor clothes that she wore for forensic analysis, to rule out any foul play.
Clothes given on Monday
Police on Monday afternoon handed over pants and a T-shirt at the Kalina FSL, a source at the lab told mid-day. The police also submitted a letter, asking to look for any biological evidence on the clothes with a request for early submission of the findings.
Regent Galaxy at Jankalyan Nagar in Malad from where she allegedly jumped to her death in June. File pic/Shadab Khan
The source said the biology division of the FSL has started the procedure for the forensic examination of the clothes. When ready, the reports will be submitted to the Malvani police station, where the accidental death report has been registered, the source added.
Though Salian’s parents have not raised any suspicion about her death, police are probing all possible angles.
Thorough exam needed
Forensic experts on condition of anonymity said the clothes should be thoroughly examined by FSL scientists for any crucial clues, like mud stains, paint residue, or any other particles that might have got stuck to the cloth at the time of the fall. "These clues could be crucial to ascertain the crime scene — the exact location from where she allegedly jumped and the spot where her body was found. However, all this depends on the manner in which the cloth was preserved for so many days," the sources said.
Senior Criminal lawyer Dinesh Tiwari too raised doubts about the availability of any evidentiary residue on the fabric. "In Salian’s case, it is very evident that the police didn’t follow the basic Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which is otherwise done in an accidental death case. I do not believe Mumbai police is so naive to not follow the SOP, and this raises doubts about the manner the case has been probed so far, which is apparently not bonafide intent."
Evidence may not be there
"The clothes that the deceased wore on the day of the incident should have been sent for forensic analysis soon after recording the details of the clothes in the inquest panchnama. I am of the belief that the biological stains and evidence on the clothes, if any, may not be available now, as the clothes were submitted to the FSL after two months," said Tiwari.
"Also, other crucial forensic evidence should have been preserved, including studying the crime scene and doing a dummy test to rule out any foul play. Moreover, we must understand that in many cases the courts have awarded punishments to the accused purely on the basis of scientific and forensic evidence," Tiwari added.
Doubts of tampering
Solicitor Stuti Galiya, said, "In criminal proceedings, it is the job of the prosecution and forensic experts to eliminate every possibility of alteration, substitution or tampering of evidence. It is the job of the concerned investigating officer to collect all important pieces of evidence like hair, nails, clothes, finger prints, etc from the spot. Such evidence cannot be collected later. Any negligence in this regard may nullify the very purpose of forensic analysis and has potential to result in imperfect justice either by exoneration or false conviction of the accused."
"In this case, there seems to be some serious time lapse on the part of the investigating officer to collect and submit the clothes. The defence may raise serious concerns on the genuineness and veracity of the evidence, and possibility that the evidence was tampered with cannot be completely ruled out," said Stuti.
Questions on handling
A senior forensic scientist, who requested anonymity, said, "Usually, the police send the clothes along with the viscera and other samples collected during the autopsy, especially in a case where there’s a need to rule out any sexual abuse of the victim before death."
"Moreover, a delay in submission of crucial forensic evidence like clothes will always raise doubts about the manner in which the sample was kept or preserved, reason for delay. Also the possibility of evidence tampering cannot be ruled out," the former scientist said.
Dr Shailesh Mohite, president of Medico Legal Association of Maharshtra, said, "All these evidences are important and should have been sent in time, so that their evidentiary value does not adversely impact on the crucial evidence."
Challenging task ahead
Professor (Forensic Medicine) Dr Rajesh Dhere, secretary of Medico Legal Association of Maharashtra, shared similar views. "Scientifically, the clothes should have been given for FSL analysis immediately. But after 62 days, the biological stains/evidence, if any, on the clothes might have even decomposed. Also the blood stains, if any, would have dried and it might be a bit challenging to extract blood for grouping."
Day (in June) Disha Salian died
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