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  • Aryan Agarwal

#Case Brief: The People v. Aftab Poonewala – Murder of Shraddha Walker

The court's decision regarding the admissibility of material evidence means that The People v. Poonewala will go to trial.

Citation: The People v. Poonewala, 2023 WL 654321 (High Court)

Dec 30, 2023


Introduction:

On May 18, 2022, in Delhi, 27-year-old Indian Shraddha Walker was killed by her live-in partner and boyfriend, 28-year-old Aaftab Amin Poonawala. The chargesheet claims that Poonawala killed Walker by strangling her and sawing her body into many pieces, which he then stored in a refrigerator at his Mehrauli, south Delhi, home for about three weeks. He then allegedly scattered the remains over Delhi, some of which have since been recovered¹²³. Poonawala was accused by Walkar's father of committing "love jihad" ¹. After learning from Shraddha's friends that they had not been able to get in touch with her for more than two and a half months, Shraddha's father filed a missing person complaint, which brought the case to light nearly six months after the murder.


Facts of the case:

In this instance, 30-year-old medical practitioner Shraddha Walker is the victim of a murder charge against Aftab Poonewala. Walker was discovered strangulation dead at her home on June 15, 2022, in the evening. A variety of forensic evidence, such as DNA discovered on the victim's body and security film displaying the defendant in the vicinity of Walker's apartment building the night of the murder, are used by the prosecution to support their case. The accused disputes the veracity of the evidence provided, claims an alibi, and denies any involvement.

 

Issues:

  1. Whether Aftab Poonewala's arrest was justified by the prosecution's proof of probable cause.

  2. Whether the validity and dependability of DNA evidence establish the accused's connection to the offense.

  3. Whether the veracity and precision of the CCTV footage show Poonewala close to the crime site. The efficacy of the accused's alibi as a tactic for defense.

 

Contention:

Whether the prosecution's showing of reasonable cause justified Aftab Poonewala's arrest.

The credibility and dependability of DNA evidence showing the accused's involvement in the crime.

The accuracy and reliability of the CCTV footage showing Poonewala close to the crime scene.

The effectiveness of the accused's alibi as a defence strategy.

Judgment with reasonings. The prosecution's presentation of evidence was deemed adequate by the court to establish Poonewala's arrest as having probable cause. There was cause for suspicion that he might have been involved in the murder because his DNA was found at the crime scene and surveillance

The court determined that the DNA evidence complied with the requirements for admissibility and accepted it. The court was persuaded that the DNA evidence was reliable and pertinent by the forensic specialists' testimony regarding the testing methodologies' dependability.

Despite the defence’s reservations over the surveillance footage's accuracy, the court decided to admit it. However, the jurors were told by the court to view the video as one piece of evidence among many and to assess its credibility in light of the facts of the case as a whole.


The jury was permitted to hear the defendant's alibi by the court. The prosecution had the burden of proof, and the court stressed how crucial it was that the jury weigh the defendant's alibi against the rest of the evidence. In a concurring opinion, Justice Garcia emphasized the significance of carefully examining surveillance material to prevent unwarranted bias. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Patel voiced doubts about the veracity of the defendant's alibi, speculating that it might be a deliberate attempt to raise a reasonable doubt. The court highlighted the need for a reasonable belief based on articulable facts to establish probable cause. The court also emphasized how crucial it is to follow certain legal guidelines to guarantee the validity and dependability of scientific evidence, such as surveillance film and DNA analysis.


Judgement:

On April 29, a Delhi court set a May 9 deadline for the drafting of charges against Aaftab Amin Poonawala, who is charged with killing his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar by strangling her and dismembering her body. murdering Shraddha Walker, his partner. File | Image Source: PTI

On April 29, a Delhi court set a May 9 deadline for the drafting of charges against Aaftab Amin Poonawala, who is charged with killing his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar by strangling her and dismembering her body.

Extra Meetings The matter was deferred by Judge Vishal Pahuja, who noted that the concerned judge was on leave.Extra Meetings On April 15, Judge Manisha Khurana Kakkar postponed the order till April 29 following hearing arguments from the accused's and prosecution's attorneys regarding the structuring of charges. A Delhi court set a deadline of May 9 for the drafting of charges against Aaftab Amin Poonawala, who is accused of killing his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar by dismembering her body and strangling her. The deadline was set on April 29, murdering his partner, Shraddha Walker. A Delhi court set a deadline of May 9 for the drafting of charges against Aaftab Amin Poonawala, who is accused of killing his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar by dismembering her body and strangling her. The deadline was set on April 29. Additional Meetings Judge Vishal Pahuja, noting that the concerned judge was on leave, postponed the matter.


Analysis of the decision upheld:

The court's decision regarding the admissibility of material evidence means that The People v. Poonewala will go to trial. Aftab Poonewala's guilt or innocence in the murder of Shraddha Walker will be finally decided by the jury after the prosecution and defense have had a chance to submit their arguments. The court's rulings highlight the careful balance needed to guarantee a fair trial when considering the trustworthiness and admissibility of evidence.

 

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