Saturday, February 28, 2009

NARCO ANALYSIS: ANOTHER SORDID SCAM?

Dr S Malini, the forensic psychologist who made narco analysis tests famous after multi-crore stamp paper racketeer Abdul Karim Telgi was subjected to one in 2003-04, has been sacked by the Karnataka government for forging her birth details and falsely stating that she has Masters in Science degree instead of the MA (psychology) degree that she actually does. Also, despite holding a government job, she is working as a consulting specialist at a private hospital.

Dr Malini is not new to controversy. There have been complaints about her earlier too. In fact in December 2008, the Karnataka police had asked the government to dismiss her on grounds of being unsuitable for the job. The police had then alleged that her way of conducting narco tests was "unprofessional" and that she was willfully leaking details of the tests to the media even before they were given to the investigating officers. As per the police, she leaked information to TV channel Aaj Tak on the narco analysis on Fahad Ali, one of the two Al Badr men arrested in October 2006 by the Mysore police on charge of planning terror strikes in Mysore and Bangalore. Later she leaked to the same channel the CDs of narco analysis done on the brother of Shahid, arrested by the Andhra Pradesh police in connection with the terror attack in Hyderabad in 2005. Shahid was suspected to have been involved in the Indian Institute of Science attack in Bangalore in December 2005.

There is much more. When Dr Malini had coaxed a confession out of Telgi, the CBI had dismissed it as unreliable. Why? Probably because in the test he had named many senior politicians, including Sharad Pawar, as being neck-deep in the huge racket. But the same CBI went back to her when it took over the Arushi murder case from the police and asked her to carry out narco tests on Rajkumar, Krishna and Vijay Mandal. Based on the results of the tests, Arun Kumar, Joint Director in charge of the investigations, held a press conference and announced with great bravado that the three of them had killed Arushi and that the case had been solved.

With the same confidence with which NOIDA police had declared Arushi's father Dr Rajesh Talwar guilty of murdering her, the CBI exonerated him. That too without subjecting him to a narco test, despite the many unsolved riddles surrounding his activities on the night of the murder and later. Subsequently, the CBI had serious egg on its face when it failed to file a charge sheet against any of the three accused who had confessed during Dr Malini's narco test because no evidence could be found by the agency to back the narco report.

As per NDTV, nothing was revealed in the narco test on one of the accused Krishna. But after senior CBI officials landed up in Bangalore that very evening, the alleged confessions emerged. NDTV also says that in August last year, the CBI team probing the sister Abhaya murder told the court that Dr Malini's video CD of the narco analysis test was made at 6.20 am, which means that it was made at her home and not at the laboratory. The CBI also received a tampered CD instead of 3 original CDs. Based on this, a Kerala High Court judge said: "I have no doubt that the edited and manipulated CDs and report on Narco Analysis by Dr Malini may mislead the investigation."

No one has yet spoken about the narco test Dr Malini had carried out on millionaire Moninder Singh Pandher in the that shocking Nithari case where a number of children were sexually exploited and then killed and eaten over a period of more than a year. His answers were telecast on many channels and there was nothing in them to implicate him in any of those heinous acts. Even then, when I watched him answering questions during the test, I had that uncomfortable feeling that he was not fully in a trance. It appeared to me then that the required dosage of the truth serum had perhaps been erroneously not administered, due to which he was in control of his answers. At the end of it, when he got up, there was a peculiarly triumphant smile on his face that seemed to say that he had done it! Then of course, there was not even a whiff that something was amiss in the narco tests, so I had to reluctantly dismiss the doubts from my mind. Perhaps someone needs to look at that CD again.

Now, with Dr Malini's role and integrity under serious cloud, I cannot help but wonder whether the CBI's investigations into the Arushi and Nithari cases have been transparent. Manifestly rigged narco tests on three accused to wrongly blame them for Arushi's murder, no narco test on Dr Rajesh Talwar and probably a rigged narco test on Moninder Singh Pandher to exonerate him, do not generate the confidence that a professional investigative agencies efforts should. I am not saying that Dr Talwar and Pandher are guilty. But something does stink here.
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Readers may also read:
1. Arushi murder case: The CBI goofs up too!
2. Arushi case: A damning indictment of investigative agencies.