Shraddha Walkar murder: Why Aftab Poonawala’s grisly confessions aren’t enough to convict him

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The Shraddha Walkar murder case at the hands of her live-in partner Aftab Amin Poonawala may appear to be an open-and-shut-case after the latter confessed to killing Shraddha in ‘the heat of the moment’ and not deliberately.

However, that is not the case. The Delhi Police’s job is far from over — with the foremost challenge being to collect evidence in a crime that took place almost six months ago. Additionally, his many confessions, including his ‘whatever mistake I made was in the heat of the moment,’ will not be admissible in a court of law.

Moreover, the narco-test involving the intravenous administration of a drug to draw confessions from the suspect in an anaesthetic state, which the Delhi Police has secured permission for, is also held illegal by the Supreme Court.

Aftab Poonawala’s confessions

Legal experts following the case closely have noted that Aftab Poonawala’s confessions to the Delhi Police won’t be considered as evidence.

Aftab Poonawala told the court and the police earlier that he had killed Shraddha on 18 May and then dumped parts of her body — 35 pieces — in the Mehrauli forest. Delhi Police sources also had revealed that Aftab had confessed to them that he had disposed of the blade and saw he had used in the bushes in Gurugram’s DLF Phase 3. He also revealed that he has disposed a cleaver knife used in the crime in a garbage dump in the Mehrauli area.

His lawyer, Abinash Kumar, in the Saket court in Delhi on Tuesday pointed out that his client hadn’t confessed to the crime and his initial admission was not made before a magistrate, which is needed to make it acceptable as evidence. While he repeated the statement in court on Tuesday, it couldn’t be counted either as it was a remand hearing and not the actual trial.

Also read: Aftab Poonawala took 10 hours to chop Shraddha Walkar’s body into pieces: Here’s what he did in between

The law clearly states that a confession made to a police officer under no circumstance is admissible in evidence against the accused. According to the Supreme Court, Section 25 of the Evidence Act was enacted to eliminate from consideration confessions made to an officer who, by virtue of his position could extort by force, torture of inducement a confession.

For a confession to be considered as evidence it has to be recorded by a magistrate as per Section 80 of the Indian Evidence Act.

The law states, “Whenever any document is produced before any court, purporting to be a record or memorandum of the evidence, or of any part of the evidence, given by a witness in a judicial proceeding or before any officer authorised by law to take such evidence, or to be a statement or confession by any prisoner or accused person, taken in accordance with law, and purporting to be signed by any judge or magistrate, or by any such officer as aforesaid, the Court shall presume that the document is genuine; that any statement as to the circumstances under which it was taken, purporting to be made by the persons signing it, are true, and that such evidence, statement or confession was duly taken.”

Lack of primary evidence

As of now, the cops are still collecting evidence in the crime, but a lack of body to prove a crime is a big hurdle in proving a case against Aftab Poonawala. As of now, the police have recovered some human remains from the forest, which they are now trying to establish as Shraddha’s. The remains have been sent for testing and the results from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory are awaited.

The authorities have reached out to Shraddha’s contacts to establish that she was not alive after 18 May and did not contact anyone post that to prove that Aftab indeed murdered her.

Also read: Severed head to murder weapon: What the police need to nail Aftab Poonawala in the Shraddha Walkar murder

As Aftab strangled her, there is no murder weapon. However, Aftab did use a saw and other weapons to chop her body into pieces. Now, the cops have to extract evidence from them, a hard task since it’s been six months since the crime was committed.

According to police sources, important clues have been found from the bathroom tiles of Aftab’s flat in Chhatarpur Pahadi after a forensic team broke the bathroom tiles and found blood stains on them.

The recovered tiles have been sent for DNA examination to ascertain whether those blood stains are of Walkar and the report is expected within two weeks.

There are no primary witnesses to the crime, which would also help Advocate Abinash Kumar in building a defence for Aftab.

Significance of the narco test

While the police are conducting a polygraph test on Aftab, they are also preparing for a narco test for him.

However, the reports of both tests won’t be admissible in court. Advocate Wills Mathews speaking to The Federal said that a narco test by itself is nothing significant because the answers given at that time are not solely admissible in court.

He, however, added that the test may certainly help as “corroborative” evidence and stand independently if the answers lead the police to a vital piece of evidence, thereby strengthening the case.

It is left to the authorities to ensure that they build a watertight case if they want to get Aftab convicted for the murder of Shraddha Walkar.

With inputs from agencies

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Shraddha Walkar murder: Why Aftab Poonawala’s grisly confessions aren’t enough to convict him
Shraddha Walkar murder: Why Aftab Poonawala’s grisly confessions aren’t enough to convict him
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