A special CBI court in Ghaziabad on July 15 rejected the CBI’s closure report into the death of Justin John Xavier, a first-year Aerospace Engineering student at Amity University, who drowned in the swimming pool on the college campus. Special CBI judge A K Singh allowed the protest petition filed by Justin’s family, ordering fresh investigation into the case and listing out the following loose ends that haven’t been tied up by the CBI in its investigation:
-The court, in its order, said the CBI has not given “sufficient reason” in its closure report with regard to the allegation of tampering with vital evidence by Amity University in the case. The court noted that in its closure report, the CBI admitted the “towel, T-shirt and half pant that the deceased was wearing on the night” was returned by the university to his family “after getting them washed by the washerman”.
-The court noted that the CBI needed to continue its investigation into the possibility that Xavier was ragged by seniors. It noted that there is evidence that points to the deceased being “asked for money a day before he died” and that “he didn’t wish to give this money”. The CBI, in its final report, says the deceased’s childhood friend had, in his testimony to the CBI, said Xavier had spoken to him on September 2, 2009, and told him that “some people were asking him to give money for a freshers’ party”, which he didn’t want to give and was “avoiding these people”.
-The court also said the CBI can “form a new medical board” to “reveal the truth”, not finding CBI’s explanation that the injuries found during a second autopsy in Kerala were “post mortem” and occurred while Justin’s body — kept in a coffin — was being flown to Kerala. The second autopsy revealed several contusions on his head and trunk and said his death was due to a combined effect of “blunt injury” and “drowning”. It also added that the Noida Police, in the first autopsy that adjudged the death ‘accidental’, had not sufficiently investigated his internal organs. In its final report, the CBI had sought a third opinion from the Maulana Azad Medical College doctors, which rubbished the findings of the second autopsy.
-The court also pulled up the CBI for not sufficiently investigating the absence of any CCTV footage of the incident and not investigating the call record details of those involved in the case. In its closure report, the “CBI admits that the swimming pool area had CCTV cameras installed” but that at the time of the incident these cameras weren’t “operational”. But in the protest petition, the question is asked as to why — if seperate timings are specified for men and women to swim — the camera near the men’s swimming pool was switched off, while men were swimming. The court said, “investigation needs to continue” on this front.
-The court, in its order, said further investigation needs to be conducted into the existence of Xavier’s signature in both the “exist and entry column of the swimming pool register”, which the court noted is “in itself impossible” if his death took place at the pool. “After Justin John’s death in the swimming pool, it’s not possible for his signature to be in the exist column of the swimming pool register” and this indicates that “someone had intentionally tampered with the swimming pool register”. While the Kerala Police had sent the signatures to the forensic lab for re-investigation, no conclusive answers could be found, the court noted. Meanwhile, the CBI had not investigated the matter at all while concluding the case, neither had it submitted the pool register as evidence to the court.
-The court, in its order, also pulled up the CBI for not properly examining the testimony of the victim’s father, John Xavier — the “most important witness” in the case — instead, enquired about information through emails “as per requirement”, despite him “wishing to present himself before the CBI to give important information”.
-The Noida Police, while preparing its report in the case, had not deemed it a “suspicious death”. Moreover, the CBI — in its closure report — did not present any “argument or explanation” regarding the matter, neither had it conducted any investigation into the matter.
His father, John Xavier said, “I hope that my son gets justice. There’s no doubt in my mind that there is foul play and this order has once again given me some hope.” Meanwhile an Amity University spokesperson maintained that they will “abide by the court’s proceedings”.