Prashant Pandey

NEW DELHI: Even as the special team constituted to investigate charges of criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and fabrication of records in connection with the murder of Jessica Lal -- which allegedly led to the acquittal of the accused -- has began its work, it is believed in police circles here that ascertaining whether and how money changed hands between the accused and the agencies associated with investigations could be one of the focal points of the probe.

According to sources in the Delhi police, there was little doubt over the complicity of either somebody from the investigating team, or another agency (read the forensic laboratory), in derailing the investigations.

A senior police officer said the investigations have only started but as they progress the question whether money changed hands and, if so, how and who ultimately benefited from it would obviously be looked into.

Earlier, the reports of the then Deputy Commissioner of Police and, later the then Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), had alluded to collusion of the accused with the people associated with the investigation.

Sources informed that when the report pointing to the suspected collusion came out, the senior officers had mulled over the possibility of taking action against the core investigating team of the murder case. However, the opinion prevailing at that time was that taking action against the officers would make it easy for the accused to get relief from the court. This was also one of the reasons why the police did not use the option of filing additional charge sheets under Section 173 (8) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

According to a senior police officer, serious discrepancies during an investigation can creep in only when the investigating officer is negligent and a person, if lured by huge monetary benefits, can wilfully introduce the discrepancies.

The internal reports in this connection have pointed out that there was no real need of sending the cartridges, recovered from the spot, when the gun allegedly used in the crime was still not recovered.

It was the forensic laboratory report -- which said the cartridges belonged to two different weapons -- that dealt the first major blow to the police case. The police had been arguing till then that two shots were fired by the prime accused.