This was court evidence for a case done 10 years back at a place about 150 kms from Bhopal. The court was in an old building which was as crowded as courts are. My case was a ten years old murder case of 2007. The judge briefed me that I had given evidence in the case in 2009. Then the accused absconded and now that he was back, the case was reopened. There was a head injury over the left eye and intra cerebral haemorrhages in corpus callosum, pons and cerebellum and subdural haemorrhage in posterior cranial fossa. There were 3 to 4 other injuries on the body which were small abrasions. The victim was hospitalised and died after being admitted for 4 days in the hospital. My previous evidence was read out to me and re-deposited.
The main line of cross examination was in creating a doubt or a conflict that the injuries could have been caused in a road traffic accident. I was defending the stand that it is more likely to have been caused by assault. The concept of contre coup injuries was explained and then came the surprise. The defence advocate said that a prominent forensic pathologist, one of my seniors, had stated that the haemorrhages could be caused by disease or clinical conditions like high blood pressure, electrolyte imbalance, bursting of aneurysm, etc. For a split second I wondered what I had written and why and how another opinion could be such a contrast. Then I decided to do what I must. I defended my statement and stated that I did not agree with statement from the esteemed forensic pathologist and volunteered to state reasons for the same. I was in no hurry and had no doubt about my statements. At one time, the defence lawyer asked me not to volunteer more information because he had not asked, to which I asked the Judge if I could volunteer a statement or clarification if it helps the case. The judge and the public prosecutor welcomed the offer and I explained in detail to avoid a misunderstanding later. I irritated the defence lawyer for once when I started to answer as soon as he finished, he stopped me quite loudly saying that I must answer first and add information later. I was amused that after trying so hard to irritate me, finally he was irritated and so much! I agreed without flinching, without guilt, that I had not enlisted the complications of head injury when mentioning head injury and its complications to be the cause of death. I added that this is the common practice and the complications are elaborated when required by the court, which is rarely so.
Another question I was asked was whether haemorrhages in brain heal by themselves. In my previous cross examination I had mentioned that some heal and some require surgical intervention. To this answer I said, I would now further like to elaborate. I now said that the size and location of the haemorrhage decides whether it would heal by itself, need surgical treatment or would not heal.
The defence lawyer asked if I could suggest the weapon which caused the injury on the forehead if I think it is not an accident. Although it was a surgically stitched wound, but because the contusion was mentioned in the report I could say a hard and blunt weapon. Saying anything in the court requires that one always be prepared with proof or evidence for the same. Being a visitor to the court this way of thinking becomes a habit.
As a final straw, in a manner of accusation to infuriate me (which I have seen often been done by lawyers), the defence lawyer said, "I think you know that this case is an accident case and that there is evidence for the same but you for some personal reason are defending the thought and calling it homicide" to which I replied that it would be wrong to say so. This finally got the judge and advocates smiling and finished my evidence.
There were about 8 to 10 lawyers in the room and all enthused at what had just gone around in the court room for about an hour. One of the lawyers came to me and said he had interrogated me in my earlier days at Vidisha. To him I confessed that I have matured from what I was earlier and that even in the present case my previous evidence 8 years back had areas to improve upon. He felt the same about his work too. Another old lawyer remembered one of my presentation for lawyers about 15 years back. He said that it can be harmful for the defence to ask too much from an expert, like today, but it can be good learning for other lawyers in the bargain. He was indicating how it might be difficult for the defence lawyer to now suggest that it is an accident case.
The final comment came from the defence lawyer himself. He said that my evidence came forward as a very strong evidence. I asked him if I could take it as a compliment. He smiled and said yes and added that he would not like to ever meet me again, as an opponent. I could only come up with a thank you for all that he said to me inspite of the tough spot I put him in.