Shahrukh Pathan — the man allegedly caught on camera brandishing a pistol at a policeman during the north-east Delhi riots — will be brought to Delhi’s Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) on August 5 for his physical measurement, photography and videography to establish his identity and corroborate if he is the same person seen in the video, according to a Delhi Police officer privy to the investigation details.
Forensic experts said they use this form of evidence gathering in cases where an accused is caught on tape.The crime branch team probing the riots case got approval for this procedure from a city court on July 29.
In their application, police referred to Section 5 of the Identification of the Prisoners Act, which talks about “Power to Magistrate to order a person to be measured or photograph”.
“…Accordingly, in view of the submissions made by the IO (investigating officer) as well as the facts and circumstances of the case, this court is of the view that conduct of physical measurement, photography, and videography of accused is essential for confirming the identity of accused as well as the purposes of investigation in the present case,” the court said while directing jail authorities to produce Pathan at Rohini lab on August 5.
Pathan, 23, was arrested on March 3 from Uttar Pradesh and was charged by police in June for rioting, attempt to murder and under sections of the Indian Penal Code and Arms Act.
A purported video of him, pointing a gun at head constable Deepak Dahiya during the riots on February 24, had gone viral on social media. He is presently lodged in Tihar jail.
At least 53 persons died while 400 others were injured in clashes between Hindus and Muslims in different parts of north-east Delhi in February this year.
“It is imperative for the investigating team to collect evidence, establishing his presence at the crime scene, and corroborate its probe that the suspect and the arrested man are the same. In cases where photographs and videos are key evidence, the defence counsel usually contest the police’s investigation by saying the suspect in the video is not his or her client as he was not present at the scene of that crime on that date. But by having an affirmative forensic report linking the arrested person and the person seen in the video, the defence counsel may not be able to use their theory in Pathan’s case,” said an investigator, who did not want to be named.
Officials in the FSL said they will compare Pathan’s height, complexion, physique, his walking style, his body position at the time of the incident with the person seen in the video. They said such a procedure is usually adopted by police in cases with electronic evidence in the form of videos and photographs showing the suspect’s crime.
“We usually get requests from police for obtaining videography and photography evidence from our forensic lab in their cases. In this case, the IO will be present along with the video tape of the crime and the procedure would be carried out as per his or her requirement,” said Deepa Verma, FSL director.
Another expert in the FSL’s photography-videography division, who asked not to be named, said requests for similar procedure have become common in the last couple of years in cases where police get live or recorded video footage of crime.
“Most requests are in cases of street crimes, ATM theft and shop burglaries, where video evidence against suspects is available. Sometimes, we visit the crime scene with the suspects, recreate the entire crime, and do photography and videography to establish a positive link between the suspects in the video and the arrested persons,” the expert said.
Former IPS officer Ashok Chand, who retired from Delhi Police, explained, “This forensic evidence will positively link and establish that the person arrested in the case is the same person caught on tape wielding a pistol at the policeman. It will be an important piece of evidence against the accused.”
Pathan’s lawyer, Asghar Khan, however, said the police was unnecessarily trying to make it a “very special case” and their entire effort was to delay the bail of his client, who he said had been “falsely arrested and charged”.
“The whole FIR is false because it is filed on the complaint of the head constable whose statement in a TV channel interview is contradictory to what he said in the FIR. As far as the need for videography and photography of my client is concerned, I want to say he did not fire at the policeman. As my client was surrounded by people throwing stones, he opened fire in self-defence and not to injure or kill anyone,” Khan said.
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