MUMBAI: The Mumbai police on Thursday asked a court for permission to put SurajPancholi, accused of allegedly abetting his actor-girlfriend Jiah Khan's suicide, through the highly controversial narco-analysis test. The test was previously applied to 26/11 terrorist AjmalKasab, stamp paper scam kingpin Abdul Telgi and a suspect in the infamous Kurla rape-murder case. The move has left many wondering whether Suraj's culpability is being equated with that of terrorists and big scamsters.
Suraj, whose arrest has elicited much comment, has been sent to judicial custody till July 11 while his bail hearing in the Bombay high court will be heard on July 1. The application for the narco-analysis test will also be heard by the magistrate court on July 1.
The legal fraternity has reacted sharply to the application of a narco-analysis test and exposed the prosecution to charges of an extremely "motivated" investigation. Some experts attributed the police move to desperation.
Any move by the defence to oppose this, they said, would immediately prompt the cops to say the defence had something to hide.
Suraj was arrested on June 10, after Jiah's mother produced a five-page letter allegedly written by the actor. This evidence, though, was dismissed by the defence counsel and experts who questioned its authenticity. The defence pointed out that the letter was found belatedly, days after Jiah's death; it did not state the exact date, time and place about any incident and no overt act is attributed to Suraj and it has not even been signed by anyone.
Lawyer and activist Y P Singh said that seeking the narco-analysis route in such weak cases is a drain on the state's forensic resources. "The Supreme Court has clearly stated that such tests have to be voluntary in nature. If he decides against giving his consent, it cannot have any bearing on the trial process or prejudice police investigations. He might have his personal reasons not to go ahead with the tests," he said. Singh further said that such a test should be used only to recovery hidden incriminating material. "The test cannot be used to seek a statement of confession from the accused during investigations," he added.
Dr Rukmani Krishnamurthy, former director of the state forensic science laboratory, said that narco-analysis is very subjective and is not well-practised anywhere in the world or in India. "Narco-analysis only provides leads for investigations. After the Supreme Court verdict, it is taken with a pinch of salt. In some cases, brain mapping could provide corroborative evidence but it should be supported with physical evidence," said Krishnamurthy. Sources said there isn't enough staff at the state forensic science laboratory at present to conduct tests such as narco-analysis.
The police had made the application to conduct the test before the Andheri magistrate court on Tuesday. On Wednesday, a police team went to Arthur Road jail where Suraj has been lodged since he was sent to judicial custody. "The police arrived with a memo which Suraj refused and said he would not do anything unless he consulted his lawyer," said a source from the Pancholi family. On Thursday, Suraj's lawyer objected, saying that his client has the fundamental right to his confidentiality and that Suraj had refused to give his consent.
Regional additional commissioner Vishwas Nangre-Patil confirmed the police move to conduct narco-analysis on Suraj. Senior police officers said the sequence of events leading to Jiah's death is still unclear. "We need to find out from Suraj what exactly transpired 30 minutes prior to Jiah's death on June 3. Jiah had been to Suraj's house and we have to find out what happened between them. They also had an argument on phone and had been texting each other. We need to ask Suraj questions about their troubled relationship," said an officer.
Source: Times of India