Very few murder cases are as sensational and complex as is the Aarushi murder case. There are many loose ends and infirmities in the investigation of Aarushi murder case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Although CBI claims to have successfully cracked the case yet public opinion in this regard is sharply divided. The aim of this article is not to discuss all the pros and cons of the decision of the lower court but a very specific aspect that has been ignored by CBI and even by the defense lawyers/lower court to a great extent. This aspect pertains to inadequate and improper usage of digital evidence and cyber forensics best practices by the CBI while conducting investigation and prosecution of the parents of Aarushi for her murder.
As per the cyber forensics trends and developments in India 2014, till now cyber forensics is not widely and appropriately used by the law enforcement agencies, lawyers, judges, etc in India. As a result most of the cyber criminals are either not prosecuted at all or they are acquitted in the absence of adequate evidence. Similarly, the truth of a crime can be revealed by using proper cyber forensics methodologies but the same is not possible till our law enforcement agencies use proper cyber forensics methods.
Another related issue is that the defense lawyers are also not pressing hard to use cyber forensics principles while defending their clients. If the defense lawyers produce convincing and admissible digital evidences based upon sound cyber forensics practices, the courts would be bound to accept the same. This would also force the public prosecutors and law enforcement agencies like CBI to strengthen their own cyber forensics and cyber crimes investigation capabilities.
In short, handling of digital evidence is a big challenge for the law enforcement agencies of India and lawyers/courts. We have already witnessed that cyber forensics issues have troubled our law enforcement agencies in Aarushi Talwar’s murder case, IPL Match Fixing case, Bitcoins websites investigation, Nokia’s tax violation case, Rajnath Singh Son’s case, Amrita Rai’s G-Mail account hacking case, etc. Indian government must seriously consider empowering law enforcement agencies of India with suitable trainings and technologies.
In the Aarushi murder case, CBI failed to use cyber forensics methodologies and digital evidence to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubts. It is very important to maintain a “chain of custody” and “proper documentation” of the acquisition of such digital evidence and investigation authorities must ensure that the evidence acquired by them is “admissible” in a court of law.
Unfortunately, the lawyers of the convicted parents seem to have ignored the digital evidence that, if proved successfully, could easily lead to their acquittal. The same should be pressed before the High Court before it is too late. When stakes are high it is not a good strategy to ignore and exclude crucial areas that can strengthen a lawyer’s case.
At Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) we believe that in the present times many scams, crimes and contraventions can be effectively solved using cyber forensics methods. Even the recent MPPEB/ Vyapam scam has raised interesting cyber forensics issues. Indian law enforcement agencies, lawyers and courts must understand the importance of the “forensically sound image” of the hard disk/digital media in question by using the bit by bit image method. Similarly, the strength and capabilities of cyber forensics laboratories operating in India must also increase and enhanced.
As far as Aarushi murder case is concerned, the same reflects a poor cyber forensics usage by CBI and defense lawyers and proper use of the same by either side may result in tilting of the case in its favour before the higher courts.