Is the CBI taking lessons from TV's CID?

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 21, 2012 19:51 hrs

​The makers of the hit television serial CID have probably got their portrayal of detective and forensic in our country exactly right. Here is a typical passage of play:

Agent: Sir, ghar ke saare oar pairon ke nishaan hain

ACP: Iska matlab pata hai Daya?

Daya: Kya sir?

ACP: Idhar koi aaya tha.

Sounds a bit ridiculous? Try the drama in real life being played out in the Aarushi trial in Ghaziabad. On Friday, prosecution witness Deepak Tanwar, a scientist from the physics department of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) took the stand in the trial court. Tanwar had been given the job of analyzing the alleged murder weapon(s): a couple of golf clubs from a set of 12 that Dr Rajesh Talwar, a novice golfer, owned.

Tanwar was also part of a team that carried out a curious "scientific experiment" at the scene of the crime November 2010. One of his colleagues, Dr Rajinder Singh, submitted a "crime scene reconstruction report" after a month's deliberations.

The first question answered in this report, was "whether it is possible for two persons to carry a body of a person of average built (sic)" wrapped in a bedsheet, up one flight of stairs.

CFSL's scientists came up with the breathtaking answer after a month's pondering: yes, indeed this was possible.

The experiment in question was carried out using every scientific tool required. These are listed methodically as part of the "forensic opinion": two 10 ml bottles of red dye (Shalimar Superlac); a 10 litre bucket; 4 litres of water; one bedsheet. In addition, there was a volunteer from the lower constabulary - who was made to lie on the sheet, get carried, and then get dragged.

Shalimar Superlac (red) came into the picture because "recreation of the crime scene" required a "blood trail". On the terrace, a sheet was duly soaked in dye, a constable lay on it and was then dragged. It was noticed that the drag marks made by the heels were "parallel". (It would be a bit odd if a corpse were to paint elaborate patterns with its heels while being pulled along.)

Rajinder Singh, under whose guidance the experiment was carried out and whose report Deepak Tanwar's testimony relied upon, is no longer listed as a CFSL employee and cannot be a witness in the Aarushi case. He was allegedly removed after being exposed for filing a false report in the Shanti Bhushan CD controversy (he had said the tapes of purported conversations between Bhushan and Mulayam Singh Yadav regarding fixing a judge, were authentic; in fact, they were doctored).

So it fell upon Tanwar to describe the experiment, and Rajesh Talwar's golf clubs. In the case of the clubs, Tanwar said he found that two of them had slightly less dirt lodged in the tiny cavities of the embossed numbers on their heads. This he discovered upon microscopic examination about eight months after the clubs had been sent to CFSL - with little attention paid to the integrity of the material to be tested in the interim. The CBI argues that slightly less dirt implies "cleaning", by the accused.

As in: "Iska matlab pata hai Daya?".

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Avirook Sen has been a journalist and writer for over 20 years. A former resident editor of Hindustan Times (Mumbai) and editor of Mid-Day, he has written with passion and insight on subjects as varied as sport and terrorism for top publications across the world. His first book, Looking for America, was published in 2010 to enthusiastic reviews. You can write to him at

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