NEW DELHI: It was not a rod but a screwdriver, which caused Nirbhaya’s intestines to come out. So claimed convict Mukesh Singh in the original version of the controversial BBC documentary, India’s Daughter.
In an obvious bid to mitigate the gravity of the offence, Mukesh suggested for the first time in that deleted portion that, wrapped in a cloth, the screwdriver had been inserted in Nirbhaya’s vagina just to remove semen, the DNA evidence of the rapists.
This “new evidence” has come to light through written opinions obtained by filmmaker Leslee Udwin in the last week of February from former Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat and former chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court Mukul Mudgal. TOI is in possession of copies of the legal opinions which disclose that the part related to the screwdriver had been deleted from the documentary in the course of the consultation with the retired judges.
Since the documentary was due to be shown on March 8 while the appeals of the four convicts in the Delhi gang-rape case were still pending in the Supreme Court, one of the six questions put to Pasayat was on Mukesh’s introduction of the screwdriver in the narrative in the place of the two rods figuring in the trial court and Delhi high court judgments.
“Does the Supreme Court look only at the sessions court and high court judgments and proceedings?” Udwin asked, adding, “Can/does it look at new evidence?”
According to Pasayat’s 37-page opinion dated February 24, the filmmaker went on to explain the import of her question as he had himself “not viewed” the documentary. She said that Mukesh’s interview in the film “yields a new piece of evidence which was not canvassed in the sessions court at all.” Though the prosecution had presented the two rods with Nirbhaya’s blood on them as murder weapons, Udwin said: “Mukesh tells us in his interview in the film that it was not a rod but a screwdriver that was inserted and caused the intestines to come out.”
Clockwise from top left: Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh. They were found guilty for the gang rape and murder of Nirbhaya and sentenced to death. The fifth accused Ram Singh was found hanging in his cell in Tihar Jail. The sixth accused was found to be a juvenile and found guilty by the juvenile justice board and sent to a juvenile correctional facility for about three years.
The self-serving implications of Mukesh’s fresh claim were also spelled out by Udwin: “He says they wanted to mop up the evidence or clean out the semen and so they wrapped a cloth around a screw driver and inserted it. The cloth got left behind and they tried to get it out with the screwdriver and that is how the damage was caused.”
As this detail might be said to “call into question the police case”, Udwin asked, “Might this be used by the defence lawyers as new evidence to reopen the case at this stage? Or to cast a doubt in the Supreme Court judges’ minds which might lead to leniency of sentence?”
In his response to the screwdriver twist, Pasayat began by saying that the Supreme Court “generally does not look into new evidence although it can”. But as he was subsequently informed by Udwin that the section dealing with the screwdriver claim was “being edited and removed”, Pasayat said that the issue “cannot be of any consequence”. He added that “until the so-called material is brought on record as evidence, the question posed is hypothetical.”
Thanks to the deletion of the screwdriver reference, Mudgal too concluded that the film could be aired as it “only depicts the facts and information already available in the public domain.”
Relying on a comparison made by Udwin’s lawyer, Mudgal observed that the claim made to her about the screwdriver was in fact the “one passage of the accused’s transcript which was not on the court record.”
Besides dealing with the screwdriver issue, Pasayat allayed Udwin’s apprehension that she might be accused of prejudicing the appeals in the Supreme Court. The cause for Udwin’s apprehension was that out of the four accused who had been tried, Mukesh was the only one to have not taken the plea of alibi in the court. So, can the allegations he repeated against the co-accused in his interview to her be cited for claiming prejudice? Even as he held that “the matter is sub judice”, Pasayat said that “this documentary cannot prejudice the Supreme Court or the proceedings pending therein.”
The irony though is that despite the deletion of the rapist’s screwdriver claim and the reassuring opinions that had followed from former judges, Udwin suffered a judicial setback on March 4 when her film was barred from being shown.
Source: Times Of India