A NEW ZEALAND BARRISTER ANALYSES POLICE EVIDENCE
Warren C. Pyke LLN (Hons.) LLM (VUW), Barrister, New Zealand 3-3-1993
I COMMENT ON THE Remand Report of the Superintendent of Police, CID Cuddapah. Assuming that his findings have not been materially contradicted, which is the position as I understand it, his report clearly calls for a thorough and impartial inquiry into the deaths in Sai Baba’s room. Any one of the following grounds would be sufficient in my opinion, but combined the case for such an inquiry is overwhelming.
The contradictory eye-witness evidence of V. Jagadish, contradictory that is to the local Police Officer’s statements – the fact that he observed the broken door before the police arrived and was possibly the last independent witness to speak to the deceased makes his evidence significant and most material;
The contradictory eye-witness evidence of D. Peddireddy, contradictory that is to the local Police Officer’s statements – he says that he broke the wooden plank that was holding the door and saw the deceased in the room after he did so, once again this is most significant material and corroborates the evidence of Jagadish;
The absence of injury to the CI and the nature of the minor injuries to the other Police Constables is inconsistent with their story of a struggle and their need to open fire, but is not inconsistent (I deliberately use a double negative here) with the account of Jagadish and Peddireddy;
The position of the deceased after death is inconsistent with the Police version but consistent with them still being in the room after the door was broken, as observed by Jagadish and Peddireddy;
The nature of the gunshot wounds to the deceased are entirely inconsistent with the Police Officer’s claim of self-defence but are entirely consistent with a very close range discharge;
The fact that the bodies were moved is sufficient to warrant an inquiry as this clearly shows that the crime scene was deliberately altered after the fact;
The absence of possession by the deceased of the alleged knives after death strongly suggests that they posed no threat to the Officers, although it cannot be ruled out that the knives were dropped in the alleged melee;
The evidence about when the shots were heard: independent and reputable witnesses, Balachandra, Sahani, Vatsava all say 1 a.m., which is consistent with the post mortem report as to time of death; this contradicts the Police evidence by a full 1 ½ hours (11.30 p.m. cf 1 a.m.): this cannot be explained by any suggested error in the post mortem;
The number of rounds discharged and the position of the bullets after firing show that some firing as not directed at a specific target. Give the police assertion of self-defence which, if believed, would suggest that the firing would have been carefully aimed so as to avoid shooting their fellow officers (given the confined space), the Police evidence as to the nature of their firing is incredible.
Given the matters outlined in the Remand Report, the failure to further investigate and prosecute the Police Officers involved is a shame and a disgrace to the law enforcement body responsible and to the judiciary who have consistently failed to intervene. No self-respecting and principled law enforcement body or judicial system would tolerate such a situation. In the case of multiple murders, there can be no justification for ignoring.
Warren C. Pyke, (4th Floor, NZI Building, Garden Place, Hamilton, New Zealand)
NOTE: Concerning the time of the intruders’ attack on the temple which led to the deaths of his valets, Sai Baba said in a discourse about 3 weeks later at Gurupurnima about his valet Radhakrishna. “The messenger of death dogged him at 10.00 p.m.” (See the journal Sanathana Sarathi July 1993, p 175) This may be fairly accurate, though roughly 10.30 p.m. is indicated by most reliable accounts. This leaves from 3 to 4 hours between the attack and the executions of the attackers, during all of which time Sai Baba was close at hand and was repeatedly conferring with his officials.