A city court on Thursday allowed Delhi Police to conduct a narco analysis test on Mehrauli killing accused Aaftab Amin Poonawalla and question him for five more days in its custody.
The Delhi Police had sought the narco test of 28-year-old Poonawala, who was produced virtually, with investigators probing the case saying it was necessary since he was changing his statements and not cooperating in the probe into the brutal killing of his live-in partner Shradha Walkar.
Metropolitan Magistrate Vijayshree Rathore allowed the police to conduct the narco test, also known as truth serum test, after noting that the accused had given his consent for the same, Poonawala’s advocate Abinash Kumar said. Police had moved the application after his arrest on November 12.
Poonawala allegedly strangled Walkar, 27, on May 18 and sawed her body into 35 pieces which he kept in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his residence in South Delhi’s Mehrauli before dumping them across the city over several days past midnight. according to police. The saw was allegedly bought from a shop on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road, police sources said.
Investigators are likely to take help from other police districts in Delhi and will take Poonawala to locations like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand to establish the sequence of events leading to the murder of Walkar, police sources said.
After leaving Mumbai, Walkar and Poonawala had travelled to several locations and police will visit these places with the accused to ascertain whether something had happened on those trips to trigger the murder, the sources said.
Police have also traced the garbage van in which Poonawala had disposed off his blood stained clothes besides recovering an unpaid water bill of Rs 300 and some food bills, they said.
Metropolitan Magistrate Aviral Shukla passed the remand order after Poonawala was produced through video conferencing, considering the threat perception to the accused due to the surcharged atmosphere in the Saket court premises which also witnessed protests from a section of lawyers.
Around 100 lawyers assembled in the court premises shouting slogans against Poonawala and demanded death penalty for him.
Prior to the production of Poonawala on expiry of his five-day custodial interrogation, Delhi police moved a plea before the judge in a packed courtroom, seeking his presence virtually due to the possibility of attack by “some religious outfits and miscreants” on the accused.
“I am aware of the sensitivity of the matter, the media coverage and the public traction,” the judge said, while allowing the police plea.
The hearing on the police plea for further custody was held without the presence of media. After the proceedings, court sources said the accused was sent to five more days of police custody. The police had sought 10 days of custodial interrogation.
The Saket Bar Association (SBA) and the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) condemned the protests by lawyers.
Surendra Kumar, a lawyer, said the protests were organised against the heinous crime of the accused.
“We demand fair investigation in the matter. It should be decided expeditiously in a fast track court,” he said.
While the SBA sought to distance itself from the protests, the BCD said the law should take its course.
The narco test involves the intravenous administration of a drug (such as sodium pentothal, scopolamine and sodium amytal) that causes the person undergoing it to enter into various stages of anaesthesia. It has been used for solving crucial cases in the past.
The investigating agencies use this test after other evidences do not provide a clear picture of the case.
However, statements made during a narco test are not admissible in the court except under certain circumstances when the court thinks that the facts and nature of the case permit it.
In a harrowing tale of betrayal and subterfuge, the accused, a trained chef, evaded detection for six months, continued to live in the house they shared and was only arrested on November 12 after details of the killing and its grisly aftermath came to light during his interrogation.
According to sources privy to the probe, the police are approaching other police districts to share information about decomposed body parts recovered in their areas in the last six months.
“We will talk to the owners and staffers of hotels where the couple had stayed in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and also make them identify Poonawala. We will also take him to the Mehrauli forest area to ascertain the routes taken by him while dumping the severed body parts,” the sources said.
The sources also claimed that Poonawala had misled the investigators about the routes taken by him.
“We have recovered body parts from four locations in the forest area. He had used a saw to chop the body parts, which he had allegedly bought from a shop on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road. We will also take him to that shop so that the shopkeeper can identify him,” the sources said.
Blood samples of Walkar’s father have been collected for DNA analysis of the 13 body parts recovered so far, sources said.
(With PTI inputs)
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