Judiciary slams CBI move to Protect Catholics from deep shame

published on August 28, 2008

CBI given three days to clear CD mystery

Pioneer News Service | Kochi

CBI, the country’s premier investigating agency, plunged into a credibility crisis on Thursday with the Kerala High Court refusing to accept any of its requests and explanations regarding the mix-up of the CDs containing recordings of the narco-analysis procedure on two priests and a nun in the Sr Abhaya murder case.

As the CBI counsel failed totally to justify its argument, the court allowed the agency three more days to submit a convincing explanation.

Entire Kerala and the legal fraternity are eager to know whether the premier investigating agency will be able to regain its credibility, which has suffered a serious jolt with the development. A senior lawyer of the High Court said it was unlikely that the CBI came up with a plausible explanation in these three days for the mix-up which forced the court to suspect aloud that the CBI was lying.

The CBI for the past three days had been arguing that it had got only one CD with the recordings of the narco-analysis procedures on Fr Thomas M Kottoor, Fr Jose Puthrukayil and Sr Steffi, who were subjected to it in connection with Sr Abhaya’s murder in 1992. But the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Bangalore had explained to the court that it had handed over three CDs – each containing details of person’s narco-test – to the CBI.

This had led to the court’s observation that the CBI could be lying.

When the case was taken up on Thursday morning, Justice V Ramkumar, who was hearing the case, asked the CBI counsel to submit an explanation then and there. But the counsel said that it was not possible as probe official RK Aggarwal, CBI Dy SP, was on his way back to Delhi. The court retorted that such excuses could not be entertained and that it needed to get the explanation on the day itself.

The CBI should not think that it was above all laws, AX Varghese, counsel for Sr Abhaya’s father M Thomas, quoted Justice Ramkumar as saying. “It is a very significant observation, and in that sense, today is a very important day in the case,” he said.

The CBI counsel told the judge that it would be impossible for Aggarawal to return to Kochi and depose before the court at this juncture.

The court said that there was no need for him to return for the purpose but his explanation was all that was needed. Even otherwise, there was no meaning in wasting public money to travel to the court to repeat the old unconvincing stand, the court said.

But when the court reconvened in the afternoon, Justice Ramkumar allowed the CBI request for grant of three days’ time for filing the answer.
The CBI counsel said that the agency would request to the court when it filed the answer for an IPS-level probe into how the agency had in its possession only one CD while there were three CDs actually.

After the court had examined the CD presented by the CBI earlier, Justice Ramkumar had expressed the suspicion that the recordings on it were doctored.

It was in this context that he directed the director of the Bangalore laboratory to hand over all the CDs and reports it had over the narco-analysis procedure.

Subsequent to this, an examination by the court Registrar proved that there were three CDs. The laboratory also told the Registrar that these three CDs had been sent to the agency’s Delhi office through Lal Mohan Chowdhary, SP of the agency.

Laboratory director Mohan also told the court that each of these three CDs contained the recording of the procedure on one person. Apart from that, the packet handed over to Lal Mohan Chowdhary had included the covering letter from Dr Malini who had carried out the procedure.

DR Mohan also said that it was impossible to record the procedures of all the three persons on one CD. With this, the situation for the CBI turned difficult as it could not explain its argument that it had got only one CD from the laboratory in Bangalore.

The developments have led to widespread suspicion that somewhere in the process the three CDs had been edited and shrunk in size to be accommodated on one CD.

Questions are being raised as to what stage such an editing could have taken place.

The CD controversy arose after the CBI counsel submitted in the court that the agency had got clear clues about the culprits behind the murder of Sr Abhaya whose body was found in the well of the St Pius X Convent on March 27, 1992. Abhaya was a second-year pre-degree student at BCM College, Kottayam when she was murdered.

The college belonged to the diocese of Kottayam and she was a resident of the St Pius X Convent.

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