Updated: July 6, 2021 9:30:50 am
A digital forensic expert, Ashish Duraphe, on Monday deposed as a witness before the special court in Pune hearing the case of a couple Arun Bhelke and Kanchan Nanaware, who were arrested by the state anti-terrorism squad (ATS) in September 2014 for their alleged links with the banned outfit CPI-Maoist.
Duraphe, who used to work with the forensic science laboratory (FSL), Mumbai, had conducted forensic analysis of the digital material seized from the accused. He now works with a private establishment.
Bhelke alias Rajan alias Aditya Patil, and Kanchan Nanaware alias Bhoomi alias Sonali Patil, both from Chandrapur district, were arrested by the ATS for allegedly being active members of the CPI-Maoist. ATS alleged that the couple worked in cities like Pune and Mumbai, using other aliases, and tried to indoctrinate urban youths towards the banned Maoist group.
They were charged under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Digital material like hard disks, a pen drive and internet data card were allegedly seized from their possession. Both were later lodged at Yerwada Central Jail.
ATS claimed to have recovered from them digital items and incriminating material like communications between members of the banned Maoist group. Existing and deleted data recovered from the digital items purportedly seized from the accused has been submitted before the court.
Nanaware died on January 24 this year, following a prolonged illness.
Bhelke was produced before Special Judge S R Navandar on Monday through video- conferencing.
Prosecution lawyer Ujjwala Pawar conducted chief examination of Duraphe. The forensic expert submitted a certificate as per section 65 B of the Indian Evidence Act, certifying that content from the digital material recovered from the accused and produced before the court was correct.
During his cross-examination, defence lawyer Rahul Deshmukh claimed that during a conversation before the hearing, Duraphe was told by ATS officers to answer falsely before the court. Duraphe refuted the claim.
Advocate Deshmukh questioned Duraphe about the procedures followed during the forensic analysis of the seized digital data. Duraphe said it was mandatory not to use original ‘exhibits” for the purpose of analysis. He said image files of the original data were generated using software and then taken for analysis.
Duraphe said the “bit stream” imaging method was used for forensic analysis in this case, as it copies existing data along with deleted data, protected files and free spaces.
Deshmukh then said that for copying images, devices of higher capacity than the original have to be used, and if low-capacity devices are used, then data may not be copied properly. To this, Duraphe said the software has an “in-built capacity” to compress the data and transfer it to image files.
When Deshmukh said compressing the data affects its authenticity and integrity, Duraphe denied the claim. His cross-examination will continue on Tuesday.
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