The missing post-mortem doctor

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 16, 2012 19:48 hrs

Dr Naresh Raj, the doctor who conducted the post-mortem on Hemraj’s body, cannot be traced, according to the CBI. Dr Raj is supposed to testify for the prosecution in the Ghaziabad court where Rajesh and Nupur Talwar are on trial for the 2008 murders of their daughter Aarushi and servant Hemraj. On Friday, when judge Shyam Lal enquired when the doctor was expected, the prosecution said it was still in the process of locating him.

A CBI officer told the court that the only ‘news’ the agency has on Dr Raj is an e-mail from a relative which says the doctor has suffered several head injuries and is therefore indisposed.

Dr Raj was senior medical officer in NOIDA at the time of the murders, and lived in quarters in Doctors Awas in sector 30 of the Delhi suburb.
Dr Raj came into the picture on 17 May 2008, when Hemraj’s rotting body was sent to him for post-mortem. His report and a statement he gave the CBI on 25 July, are bland medical descriptions on the kind of injuries that Hemraj sustained.

On 12 October 2009, however, Dr Raj made a “further statement” having been summoned to the CBI office in Delhi’s CGO complex by investigating officer A.G.L. Kaul. This statement is telling: more than a year after his post-mortem report, and time spent on a special All India Institute of Medical Sciences board constituted for the case, Dr Raj sat in Kaul’s office and allegedly placed a startling new inference on record on who might have slit the victims’ throats: “the skill with which the cut was made clearly point towards a surgically trained person”. The AIIMS board that Dr Raj was part of did not say this. And I used the word “allegedly” because it has become standard practice in this case for witnesses to deny having made statements to investigators, and say something altogether different in court.

Dr Raj’s “further statement” came about seven months before another post-mortem doctor came down to Kaul’s office. Dr S.K. Dohare, the man who conducted Aarushi’s post-mortem, made as many as three “further statements”. In the last of these interviews, Kaul asked him whether Aarushi’s neck injuries could have been caused by a scalpel. Dohare said it was possible. In October 2009, Dr Raj introduced the element of surgical training. In April 2010, Dohare speculated on a surgical instrument. Ergo, the doctor must be the murderer.

Dr Raj’s entanglement in the case goes further. His wife Dr Ritcha Sharma, also a government medical officer, was the pathologist to whom the slides of Aarushi’s vaginal swabs were first sent. The slides were handled by a number of agencies, but by the time they went to a forensic laboratory in Hyderabad, they had been so contaminated that the lab reported the swabs could not have been from the biological daughter of the dentist couple.

Both Dr Saxena and Dr Raj were listed as witnesses relied upon. The CBI will not be calling Dr Saxena and says her service has been terminated, so they cannot reach her husband through her either. It is still figuring out a way to reach Dr Raj, because, the CBI told the court, he isn’t turning up for duty.

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Currently a visiting fellow at INSEAD, France, 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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