The police did not secure the crime scene to ensure that crucial evidence

was preserved, says Devesh K. Pandey

Investigations conducted by the Noida police into the sensational double murder of young Aarushi Talwar and the family’s domestic help Hemraj have drawn flak from all quarters because of the “unprofessional” manner in which they were carried out from the very outset, especially examination of the crime scene. The shoddy investigations have resulted in obliteration of crucial evidence causing a delay in cracking the gruesome case.

To begin with, Hemraj’s body was discovered a day after Aarushi’s was found in her bedroom despite the fact that it had been lying on the terrace of the same house. More that anything else, it exposed the lackadaisical attitude of the local police.

Like it happens in most cases in India, the police did not secure the crime scene to ensure that evidence crucial to link the crime to the perpetrator was preserved soon after the incident was reported. “Time elapsed is considered simultaneously proportional to the evidence lost,” says a senior police officer, adding that thorough inspection of the crime scene is a must during preliminary investigations.

The physical constituents of any crime are the perpetrator, the victim and the mode of commission such as weapon of offence, getaway vehicle or any communication device. The prime goal of the investigation is to connect the perpetrator to the crime by unravelling his/her link with the victim, using the information gathered about the mode of commission that inadvertently leaves behind a trail of physical evidence. They can be present in visible form such as a weapon of offence; a semi-visible form like blood, hair, stains, fingerprints, footprints, dust, tyre-tracks and also microscopic evidence such as post-mortem findings.

Though these essentials form the basis of a scientific method of investigations and are an integral part of the police training curriculum, many police officers feel that they are not practised all the time. “Any slackness in collecting physical evidence may severely affect the outcome of the case even if the real culprit has been caught. In many instances, it has been noticed that small mistakes like inability to preserve the victims’ garments have weakened the case,” said the police officer.

But there is no denying that non-availability of the required expertise and state-of-the-art set-up for scientific assessment of evidence make a huge difference to the quality of investigations. In a case of body offence like the Aarushi-Hemraj murder, police officers say, the history of the victim holds significant clues about the motive behind the crime and can also help establish the identity of the culprit.

The manner in which the Central Bureau of Investigation took up the probe into the double murder case should serve as an example for how to go about studying the crime scene. The agency not only prevented unauthorised entry to the area but also roped in highly skilled forensic experts to search for clues. The meticulous exercise resulted in gathering of crucial evidence that might eventually help in piecing together the loose ends of the case.