A forensic officer deposing in the Malegaon 2008 blast case told a special court (WHEN) that explosive ingredients detected at the blast site were “similar” to the samples seized from the home of an accused. The forensic expert was the 261st witness to depose in the case. His testimony, running into 89 pages, details the forensic analysis done by him during the investigation into the blast at Malegaon.
He told the court during his examination-in-chief by special public prosecutor Avinash Rasal that on November 25, 2008, his office had received a letter from an official of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) asking him to accompany them to search the home of one of the accused, Sudhakar Chaturvedi. He told the court that he informedhis superior and went to the spot where he met ATS officers. Chaturvedi was also present, he told the court. After Chaturvedi was unable to produce the key to his house, the ATS officials broke open the lock, he told the court. The witness said he had conducted a forensic analysis at Chaturvedi’s residence. An ATS officer had also shown him a detonator found in a cupboard. Based on the samples analysed, he had given his opinion that the “explosive ingredients – RDX, ammonium and nitrate radicals – detected at the blast site are similar to that … in samples seized from the accused place”.
During cross-examination by Chaturvedi’s lawyer, Prakash Salsingikar, the witness said that he had not obtained a written permission from his senior prior to visiting the accused’s home. He also said that he had not conducted a personal search of the ATS officers nor was he aware if Chaturvedi was under arrest at that time. “I do not know who visited prior to me and whether they planted anything in the house or not,” the witness told the court. The NIA, which took over the probe from the ATS in 2010 and filed a chargesheet in 2016, had said that false evidence was created by ATS by planting RDX at the home of the accused.
The special court, in its order in 2017 on the charges to be framed against the accused, said that despite making a serious allegation, the NIA had not recorded the ATS officer’s statement and that everything would be clear when he enters the witness box to depose during the trial.
The witness also mentioned that he had observed that the explosive material was put under the seat of the bike found at the blast site. During cross-examination, however, he told the court that it cannot be said ‘scientifically’. “I did not find any proof that the explosive was kept beneath the seat of the bike,” he told the court.