It has been close to a week since the Hyderabad High Court acquitted Satyam Babu in the Ayesha Meera murder case, and the Vijayawada police are yet to make their next move.
Directing the Andhra Pradesh government to pay Rs 1 lakh compensation to Satyam, the HC stated that he spent eight years in jail without any evidence of his involvement.
It also ordered disciplinary action against the police officers who investigated the case.
The murder took place in 2007, and Satyam Babu was convicted by a Vijayawada women's special sessions court in 2010, and sentenced to imprisonment for life.
However, even family members of the victim, along with several activists, had alleged that Satyam was framed to let a politician's family off the hook.
When the media had asked Vijayawada Police Commissioner Gautham Sawang about the acquittal, he said, “We are surprised at the High Court orders. We will initiate necessary legal action after receiving the judgement copy. I have no further comment."
Reports now suggest that the police may either challenge his acquittal, or bank on several other police cases that were registered against Satyam.
Pharmacy student Ayesha Meera was murdered in a private hostel in Ibrahimpatnam near Vijayawada on December 27, 2007.
Ayesha's head was reportedly banged against a wall, and the police said that they had found a 'love letter' at the scene, along with the word ‘Chirutha' (leopard) written on the victim's chest.
Ayesha’s parents had alleged that former Congress Minister Koneru Ranga Rao's grandson, Koneru Satish, frequently visited the hostel along with other relatives, including Koneru Suresh, Abburi Ganesh, Chinita Pawankumar and Rakesh.
They also alleged that the warden, Koneru Padma, allowed them to enter the girls' hostel as they were relatives.
The parents held these people squarely responsible for their daughter's death.
However, Satyam was arrested in August 2008, amid much outcry that the police was protecting politically influential people.
The police’s ‘proof’
According to reports, the HC, in its recent order, also stated that the prosecution purely banked on the 'fool-proof' DNA evidence in the trial court, which took the police's medical and scientific findings on face value.
According to the police, this included vaginal swabs and semen stains collected from the victim’s body, along with a blood sample from the crime scene.
The police also said that the handwriting of the word found on the victim's chest, matched that of Satyam.
There was also a confessional video that was submitted to the court.
According to a report in News18 by Sakshi Khanna, Satyam, in his confession video, says:
"I had gone for a movie. While returning, I saw a girl standing out reading a book in girls’ hostel. She went inside. I did not know why. So I climbed up, using small walls. I saw her in a room sleeping, others were also nearby her. I did not know what to do, so I came down. There was a dhaba, I picked up a big stone from there. I climbed again and hit her hard. I, then, dragged her by her feet till outside, and tied her. I raped her after that. She was dead by then. I was getting scared. Then I remembered how, in movies, they covered up such a crime. I wrote a love letter and scribbled on her chest to show murder was a result of love failure."
However, Satyam has since claimed that he was under tremendous pressure by the police, who also allegedly threatened to kill his mother.
"The confessional statement and the voice recording by police were incorrect. I just moved my lips and the voice was someone else...The police also threatened to kill my mother and sister, if I did not confess to Ayesha’s killing," he was quoted as saying.
As far as the DNA sample is concerned, Satyam's lawyers have argued that the due procedure in cases of murder and rape were not followed.
Speaking to TNM, Srinivas Rao, Satyam's lawyer, alleges that none of the 'proofs' were submitted in court during the trial, and the bench just took the police's claims on word of mouth.
"Even on their 'handwriting' claim, they had said the same thing when they arrested an earlier suspect called Laddu. It is clear that the so called evidence was manipulated by the police, to save an influential person," Srinivas alleged.
According to The New Indian Express, even the doctor who preserved the samples, admitted that there was no document on record to show that he had handed over the medical samples to the police by January 2008.
The police had in turn sent the samples to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). According to protocol, a DNA expert at the FSL then profiles the sample, and sends it back to the police, which is submitted in court.
"However, they did not have any records to show that the profile was made and sent back to the police. The DNA expert said that it was fed into the system, so that he could compare it with the samples of suspects," Srinivas added.
The TNIE report also quotes the HC ruling as stating:
"In the absence of standard DNA profile of the deceased made known to anyone, it was not difficult for the FSL to manipulate the DNA report by comparing the DNA profile of the deceased with left overs belonging to the deceased available with the FSL as suggested by the defence."
As far as the nine cases against Satyam Babu go, Srinivas claims that five of them were already quashed by the HC, as it did not find any strong evidence to support the police's claims.
"He had one case pending on a cell phone theft. However, since a person with such little criminal background couldn't possibly commit such a brutal crime, the police started submitting fabricated 'proof' and filed a bunch of other cases on him," Rao alleged.
He also adds that he was confident that the remaining cases would also not stand the test in a court.