The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Old evidence, new looking glass

Delhi High Court convicted Santosh Kumar Singh of the rape and murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo on the same evidence that the trial court had found inadequate. Evidence is recorded only at trial stage and is merely re-appreciated when appeal is heard. Here’s how the two courts differed:

Evidence I: Mattoo’s neighbour Kuppuswami says he saw accused Singh near her flat on day of rape and murder: January 23, 1996.

Trial court: Accepts defence’s contention that he’s a witness planted by CBI. Defence points to police case diary, which says that on day of murder, Kuppuswami said he only saw a rag-picker near the flat. Kuppuswami’s reference to Singh — carrying a helmet with intact visor — comes in his formal statement, recorded on February 4.

High court: Considers this important evidence against Singh.

Evidence II: Fragments from a broken helmet visor at scene of crime. Singh’s helmet recovered with broken visor. His wrist is found fractured.

Holes in CBI case
Hole I: Foreign hair found at scene but tests can’t link them to Singh.
Defence argues this angle should have been probed as Kuppuswami had seen a rag-picker.
Hole II: Household help tells police Mattoo asked Singh to take the dog out. Defence argues this shows “friendly entry”.
Hole III: Help not produced in court by CBI. Trial court feels this is meant to help Singh, but decides that directing CBI to produce him would mean acting on prosecution’s behalf.
Trial court: Rules out rape. Since rape was the motive for murder, gives Singh the benefit of doubt on murder.

Trial court: Doesn’t give much importance to this. Defence claims Singh injured himself in an accident on January 14, got X-ray done at Hindu Rao Hospital and received treatment there.

CBI collects the hospital documents but suppresses them. Nor does it explain the presence of broken “glass’’ at scene of crime.

High court: Considers all this important evidence to link accused to crime.

Evidence III: DNA test confirms rape.

Trial court: Finds fault with the way DNA samples were collected; says Hyderabad laboratory flouted protocol while conducting tests. Defence says the four AIIMS doctors who did the post-mortem on January 25 had ruled out rape, saying no semen stains were found and the hymen was intact. But Hyderabad lab finds semen stains on Mattoo’s underpants.

Defence alleges tampering of samples, saying 20 ml of blood was sent but the lab received 12 ml.

High court: Takes into account DNA test result, and that Mattoo had lodged several complaints saying Singh was following her around. Since murder was clearly committed to conceal rape, court links Singh to murder.

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