Rameez Chougle to be a case study for forensic experts

Published: Oct 17, 2012, 07:10 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon |

Of the 4,500 cases examined by the FSL in a year, this was the only one in which it managed to detect the presence of metallic poison in an exhumed body that had been buried for over two months

The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Kalina examines approximately 4,500 cases of suspected poisoning every year. But its scientists claim that of these, the most challenging and rare was that posed by the mortal remains of Rameez Chougle (25), whose body was exhumed almost two months after his death.

Rameez Chougle (inset) and his sister lived at Panch Dhara building at Yari Road, Versova.
unearthing the truth: Rameez Chougle (inset) and his sister lived at Panch Dhara building at Yari Road, Versova. The siblings had died mysteriously in their apartment

Their findings revealed that Rameez, like his sister Rehab, also consumed aluminium phosphide.

Scientists are looking forward to further studying their findings and want to use this case study as a reference for forensic conferences in the future.

FSL gets viscera samples for suspected cases of poisoning registered in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts. Some of the sources of poisoning are plants, insecticides, snakebites, drugs, food. However poisoning from aluminum phosphide is extremely rare.

Director (FSL) M K Malve said, “Usually we get around 4,500 viscera samples in a year, but the Chougle siblings case is one of the rarest, and from the academic point of view, this case will surely be discussed and referred to. Also, we will send our findings for publication to forensic journals.”

Rukmini Krishnamurthy, chairman, Helik Advisory, said, “In forensic, every case is a new case and adds up to our information base. Trace samples sent for analysis are very small and so it is very challenging for forensic scientists to accurately detect the material in question. Conclusive findings give a good lead to the investigating police officers.”

However, some members of the special forensic committee formed for the case aren’t too happy about the police not following their instructions for the exhumation of Rehab’s body along with that of Rameez, as it would have helped them ascertain the exact level of poisoning.

A committee expert, who wished not to be identified, said, “Knowledge of the level of poisoning in both the bodies would have helped us reach conclusions about the circumstances that would have led to the incident. Also, the police did not seize the food that they had eaten before their death. With discrepancies in the mother’s statement, a detailed investigation should be conducted to solve the case as it has many loose ends, which need to be tied up.”

However toxicology scientists clarified that it is impossible to accurately measure levels of aluminum phosphide poisoning, as upon consumption,
the substance gets converted to phosphine gas. Afterwards only the undigested residues of aluminum and the gas are left behind. And about Rehab, the scientists explained that since traces of aluminium were found in the stomach wash, it is conclusive that she too had consumed the poison and not inhaled it.

Additional Commissioner of Police (West) Vishwas Nangre-Patil said, “We will wait for the opinions from experts and take action accordingly.” 

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