KOCHI: The CBI has suffered a major setback in the sensational Malankara Varghese murder case as the agency couldn’t authenticate genuineness of the call data records (CDRs) of the accused which were produced in the court as an important evidence. The major lapse got exposed when the agency approached the CBI special court with a petition seeking to summon the then nodal officers of the erstwhile telecom companies — BPL Mobile Cellular Ltd and Escotel Mobile Communications Ltd — to produce Section 65B certification with regard to the printout of the electronic data retrieved by them and produced before the investigating officer earlier without certification.
Though the CBI, during the trial in the case which began on November 26, 2021, made efforts to get the certified CDRs dating back to 2002 from the nodal officers, it didn’t yield the desired results as the specific data was not available in the system of the telecom operators.
The CBI suffered another jolt on May 18 when the court dismissed its plea observing that a vigilant prosecution could have obtained the certification before the loss of the data.“If the prosecution was vigilant, they would have obtained certification at the earliest before the expiry of the statutory period for which data would be preserved. For all these reasons, I find that 65B certification sought to be brought on record by the prosecution at the fag end of the trial cannot validate the admissibility of the uncertified CDR collected by the investigating agency and produced before the court.
This being the finding, no purpose will be served in allowing the above petition. The petition is only to be dismissed,” the court said. The accused in the case, including prime accused Fr Varghese Thekkekara, objected to the CBI’s plea submitting that the object and purpose of the certification was to ensure the source and authenticity of the electronic record sought to be used as evidence.
“It is a valuable right of the accused to challenge the authenticity and genuineness of the copy of the electronic document produced before the court with 65B certification and to apply for an order for inspection of the original electronic document by an expert. So, it is a mandatory requirement that the original electronic data shall be available at the time of certification,” the court observed.