Hyderabad: To remove the possibility of doubt from the authenticity or veracity of the first autopsy, the Telangana High Court on Saturday ordered a second autopsy on the bodies of the four accused in the Disha rape-murder case.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy directed the state medical and health principal secretary to request the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi to constitute a medical board of three senior forensic doctors, who are independent and have no relationship to Telangana, and to send the team to Hyderabad to carry out the second autopsy before 5 pm, December 23.
It also directed the re-postmortem be videotaped and handed over to the High Court registrar-general.
The medical board is to give a detailed postmortem of each body and to draw its independent conclusion. The postmortem is also to be given as pen-drives and CDs. The bench directed the state government to hand over the bodies, under supervision of the Gandhi Hospital and police, to the families of the deceased once the re -postmortem is done.
The bench directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the state of Telangana to investigate the encounter, seize the case diary, the logbooks, the weapon entries, the police movement reports from the filing of the FIR of the Disha crime till the alleged encounter.
The SIT should also seize the police weapons used in the alleged encounter and send them to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory for examination and ballistic report.
The SIT should also collect the call-details record and the details of cell-tower locations as well as CCTV footage from the police station where the alleged offenders were taken, as necessary evidence.
All evidence collected by the SIT is to be preserved for the Commission.
“It is essential to note that the truth can be discovered if and only if appropriate evidence is collected, preserved and projected,” the court said.
“In case the evidence is dissipate, disappears, the truth can never be known. Therefore, in order to discover the truth it is absolutely essential that the evidence be collected appropriately and preserved thoroughly”.
Before ordering the second autopsy, the bench heard the superintendent of Gandhi Hospital, the advocate-general, the amicus curiae and the counsels for petitioners for over two and half hours.
Dr. P. Sravan Kumar of Gandhi Hospital gave technical details of the storage of the corpses. Time had caused the bodies to dehydrate and the skin colour to darken.
Autopsy tended to increase the rate of decomposition, he said. It would still take five to six days before the bodies decomposed 100 per cent internally. There are no mortuaries in the country that could freeze the bodies at sub-zero temperature, he added.
B. S. Prasad, advocate-general, submitted that the first autopsy did not need to be doubted as the team at Gandhi Hospital was expertly qualified and the procedure was videotaped. But the state government would not object to a second autopsy, though he stated it should be done by doctors from the rather than from outside.
Senior Counsel and amicus curiae D. Prakash Reddy submitted that since it was a case of custodial death, euphemistically called an encounter, there was need to restore the people’s faith in the rule of law. Thus, justice should not only be done but must appear to be done.
Ms Vrinda Grover, counsel from the Supreme Court representing a petitioner, submitted that the Telangana High Court was required to pass “appropriate orders” for “collection of evidence”, including material evidence to be culled from the bodies such as the range and direction from which the shots were fired, the bullet’s trajectory inside the body, the entry and exit wounds, recovery of bullets if any were still inside the body, and the ballistic evidence from the police weaponry.
Chief Justice Chauhan concluded: “The peculiar facts of this case have also raised certain issues that need to be dealt with by the judiciary and by the commission. It is in order to ensure impartiality and objectivity are guaranteed, and that no one is permitted to raise a doubt on [that], it is imperative that the bodies be subjected to a second autopsy.”...