Dr R.K. Sharma, former head of the department of forensics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, was cross examined by CBI counsel R.K. Saini on Wednesday in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial. Here are a few samples of the questions that were asked of the forensic expert:
- Did he have any expertise (like a degree) on "wounds"?
- Had he been trained in using a khukri?
- Had he ever seen anyone being killed by a khukri?
And a real classic: Sharma, appearing for Aarushi's parents Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar who are on trial for the murders, had attached scientific literature he had referred to in coming to the conclusion that a khukri
was likely the weapon that killed the teenager and the Talwars' servant. And that a golf club could be ruled out, because a golf swing with the intention to kill would have caused a depressed fracture, not the kind of wounds found on the victims.
Saini's take on this was that all the material cited involved injuries caused by a 'golf swing'; why hadn't the doctor quoted any material on 'non-swing' injuries?
Sharma replied matter-of-factly that he had not come across any scientific papers that talked about golf clubs causing injuries without being swung.
Was there enough space in Aarushi's room to take a full blooded swing (if we disregard the "non-swing" injury theory for a moment)? Defence counsel Tanveer Ahmed Mir has suggested during the trial that there wasn't. He has also pointed out that the investigators never carried out a crime scene recreation in Aarushi's room -- even as the CBI carried out a "scientific experiment" to prove that two people could carry a corpse wrapped in a sheet up a flight of stairs.
But such serious matters were not really taken up in Wednesday's cross examination of Dr Sharma, who couldn't at times help but laugh at the questions being posed. The "expert on wounds" question baffled judge Shyam Lal as well and he asked whether this kind of question was standard in Punjab (Saini's roots are in that state).
Saini opened his cross-examination with an attack on both the witnesses credentials and his character. The CBI counsel suggested that Sharma was passed over for promotion at AIIMS because of questionable integrity; that he played the stock market; that no respectable institution would give him a job, so he had to join the "ghatiya" institution in Hapur that employs him now.
The doctor denied each of the charges, and Saini, as usual, could offer nothing by way of proof to substantiate them.
He moved on then to the more substantive questions, such as whether an injury could be caused by a non-swung golf club.
Sharma's cross examination continues on Thursday.