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Even the clothes Disha Salian wore not examined, among other slip-ups

Updated on: 06 August,2020 07:20 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Vinod Kumar Menon |

Even the clothes Disha Salian wore not examined, among other slip-ups

Disha Salian was Sushant Singh Rajput's manager

Fifty-six days after the death of Disha Salian, 28, a botched-up autopsy has now come to light, raising more concerns about the loss of crucial forensic evidence, which could have otherwise helped the investigators to rule out foul play.

In the wee hours of June 8, Disha, Sushant Singh Rajput's manager, was believed to have allegedly jumped from a high-rise called Galaxy Apartment at Jankalyan Nagar, Malad (W). She was rushed to Shatabdi hospital, where she was declared dead before admission.

What was missed
Clinching facts, according to forensic sources, are now allegedly coming to light, raising serious concerns about the clandestine approach of both the forensic surgeon and the police, while handling Disha Salian ADR (Accidental Death Register) case – Autopsy done two days after death, No photograph / video recording of the post-mortem done, no nail clippings preserved, no crime scene visit done by the forensic surgeon, no dummy test done to recreate crime scene circumstances to rule out accidental / suicidal fall or homicide attempt. Above all, the clothes that Disha wore on the fateful night, were not examined by a forensic surgeon nor sent to a forensic science laboratory to rule out any assault or collect any stains.

The building from where she allegedly jumped. Pic/Shadab Khan
The building from where she allegedly jumped. Pic/Shadab Khan

Sources revealed, "The only sample that was collected and sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory, Kalina was viscera for chemical analysis to rule out any intoxication or drugs. Swabs were sent for ruling out sexual assault. The police have also sent Disha's mobile phone to retrieve data."

This was confirmed by senior forensic scientists attached to the state FSL, Kalina stating, "We received only viscera and swabs, other than a mobile phone for cyber forensic analysis, four days after (July 15) the post-mortem was done."

When asked if the mobile forensic laboratory team was called to ascertain the crime scene study from FSL, Kalina, an officer said they were not called for any such study.

Two days ago, the police wrote to FSL, Kalina, asking them to expedite the analysis.

Also Read: Sushant case: Mumbai Police seek information on Disha Salian

'No strong scientific evidence'
"With Disha's body cremated and no photographic evidence or crucial forensic materials in hand, the investigating police agency could have otherwise sought a second forensic opinion from medico legal experts. Now they have missed out on a strong scientific evidence, to rule out any foul play," explained Dr Rajesh Dhere, professor and head of the department, LTMG.

When asked why the samples were not preserved or there was a visit to the crime scene, a source from Bhagwati post-mortem centre, said, "The local police had not asked for a crime scene visit. Also, no complaints were there or foul play was suspected by her parents, whose statements were recorded by police, and sent with the inquest panchnama for the post-mortem."

On asking the reason for waiting two days before conducting the post-mortem, the source at Bhagwati postmortem centre said, "The result of the deceased's COVID-19 test was awaited, and so the body had to be kept in the mortuary. It was only after the COVID-19 test came negative, the body was sent to Bhagwati post-mortem centre, two days later."

In the post-mortem it was learnt that Disha had a fractured skull, and multiple rib fractures. The provisional cause of death was, 'death due to head injury and multiple injuries," (unnatural).

Interestingly, Bhagwati post-mortem centre comes under the police surgeon Dr S M Patil, who is also the medico legal-advisor for state of Maharashtra.

Dr Patil said, "I have already provided all post-mortem centres with PPE kits and directives have been given to the forensic surgeons to conduct post-mortems, in any medico-legal case, without awaiting for a COVID-19 test report. Moreover, even WHO and ICMR have clearly stated that an infection from a deceased due to COVID-19 is not a high-risk. Autopsy should have been done the same day, had the police brought the body to the pm centre."

Dr Dhere also admitted that there is no need for delay in conducting autopsies in medico-legal cases during the pandemic. "Already PPE kits have been provided to the autopsy surgeon/s and timely autopsy is always crucial to ascertain the exact time of death in such medico-legal cases," he said.

Dr Dhere also said, "Every unnatural death autopsy needs to be performed seriously and with suspicion, when brought to the post-mortem centre. It is the discretion of the autopsy surgeon, to decide the need for any crime scene investigation, photographs or additional information, as required for him to corroborate, with his autopsy findings. And the investigating police officer should facilitate the same. Also, the Indian Evidence Act is very clear about the role of expert witnesses. Moreover in case of any doubt, the forensic surgeon can always seek expert advice by reaching out to the post-mortem centre head or police surgeon, who heads the post-mortem centres in the city."

Dr Dhere, added, "Emphasis should be given to crime scene investigation, especially in case of fall from height, it would help to ascertain the circumstances and help the forensic surgeon in analysing the place from where the deceased is believed to have leaped or otherwise. The height of the balcony, fencing if any, nature of fall, etc. are very crucial for understanding. And in certain cases, dummy tests, where a dummy of similar height and weight like the deceased is made and thrown from the said height, to ascertain the nature of fall, wind velocity, extent of damage to body etc."

Expert speak
Dr Rukmini Krishnamurthy, former director of the State FSL, Kalina said, "It is said that the crime scene is a wealth of clues for forensic surgeons and forensic scientists. The victim's body is often a source of invaluable clues to what has happened at a crime scene. Hence it is the prime job of the forensic expert to be present at the crime scene as soon after the crime occurs as possible."

"A death due to fall can be natural fall or an intentional push, the forensic experts can throw light on this point by examining whether the body is lying ace down or head down, the type of injuries if any during a struggle while pushing. The distance of the fall from the parapet throws light on the type of fall. Likewise, there may be lot of other clues at the crime scene which can give a breakthrough for the investigation," she said.

Mumbai police appeal

The Mumbai police on August 5, issued a media statement stating that the Malwani police has registered an accidental death case no 85/2020 in the Disha Salian case, and that the police are investigating the case from all possible angles.

The police also appealed to the public stating that as there are different stories pertaining to the said death, on social media, print and news channels, in case anyone has any information or wants to share details pertaining to the case, he/ she can share the information with any of the following police officers –

Additional Commissioner of Police (North) Region, Mumbai
Phone no – 022-28854625

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 11), Mumbai
Phone no – 022- 28903899

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Malwani division), Mumbai
Phone no – 022- 28820497

Senior Police Inspector, Malwani Police Station, Mumbai
Phone no – 022- 28821319

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