CW: Mention of death by suicide/homicide.
“Normally, one cannot distinguish between homicidal poisoning and suicidal poisoning,” a hoarse voice from the witness stand rasps.
Unless someone cries too much or too little.
I shush my mind. I am not here in the capacity of an advocate or a private investigator. But just as a teenager sent to the courtroom to figure out if she is meant to pursue law.
The Judge, honourable C.K. Gopal looks on impassively at the prosecuting witness. And coughs.
“That will be all, your honour,” the rotund prosecuting advocate with a wide smile theatrically expands his arms before taking his seat.
The defence lawyer gets up from his seat, his eyes a curious cocktail of menace and delight,
“Your honour, request permission to cross-examine PW4.”
The judge utters in monotone,
The defence lawyer moves briskly to the witness stand. There is a bustle in the audience.
“Dr. Parth, for how long have you been working in the Government Hospital, Mumbai?”
“Nearly ten years.”
“For how many years have you been conducting post-mortem?”
“Maybe around five years.”
“Did you conduct the post-mortem of the deceased Mr. Kishore Bagchi on 16th March 2019?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Your honour, permission to present exhibit no-15 to the witness.”
“Was this certificate prepared and signed by you?”
“It says… the injuries are ante- mortem. And the quantity of barbiturate is not mentioned, as it is not possible to mention the quantity. It also states it is not possible to ascertain before how many hours of post-mortem, the poison has been consumed. Do you stand by it?”
“After the preparation of the certificate…you have made an addition- ‘may be homicidal’. I’m sure you are well aware of the gravity of any additions and deletions on a post-mortem certificate. Would you please explain?”
“Of course. Homicidal does not mean it is murder. It indicates that the injuries found on the body of Mr. Kishore were not self-inflicted. In other words, the injuries caused by other persons are technically called homicidal injuries,” the good doctor rambles on.
The audience rustles. The lawyer motions his right hand for the doctor to stop.
“Dr. Parth, you were not allowed to conduct any post-mortem from January 2017 to February 2018. And were asked by the Medical Board to take a psychiatric evaluation. Is that correct?”
“Objection, your honour!” The prosecution lawyer bursts out from his seat.
The defence lawyer smiles.
“Dr. Parth, were you suffering from hallucination or illusion before conducting the post-mortem?”
“Alright. Are you aware that your HOD Dr. Sen was a student of Dr. Avik Bagchi? the father of the deceased?”
“Were you under pressure from him to write that additional comment?”
“That will all be for now. Thank you.”
The defence lawyer takes a deep breath.
“Your honour, request permission to cross-examine PW -3, Mr. Abeer Dass.”
The bailiff calls out, “Prosecution witness number 3, Mr. Abeer Dass!”
A middle-aged man in a khadi kurta and dhoti walks to the stand. And takes the oath.
“Mr. Abeer Dass, since how long have you been a housekeeper in the Bagchi household?”
“More than fifteen years, sir.”
“You were with Bagchi Sr. for the first ten years and then moved with Bagchi Jr. once he married Ms. Sona Bagchi and moved to Mumbai, correct?”
“How was the relationship between Bagchi Jr. and Ms. Sona?”
“It was good in the beginning…”
“Were Bagchi Jr’s parents opposed to his marriage?”
“Objection your honour!” The prosecution lawyer jumps up again.
“Er... initially yes. But later on, they accepted it.”
“Okay, you said the relationship between the husband and wife was good in the beginning. How was it just before Bagchi Jr.’s death?”
“It was strained, sir. There were quarrels over Baba’s frequent visits to Pune. And madam started spending more time with Mr. Subroto Ghosh whenever Baba went away.”
“Okay, what happened on the night of 15th March 2019?”
“Madam, Ghosh, and I went to the railway station to pick up Baba. The train arrived late. On our way back, Baba, madam, and Ghosh sat at the back. Baba was a little drunk. Madam got angry and shouted at him. After some time, there was a scuffle and Baba started crying out in pain. When I tried to look back madam ordered me to look in front and not meddle in their affairs.”
“What happened once you reached home?”
“Madam took Baba to the bedroom and locked the door from inside. Ghosh and I were waiting outside. There were angry words and cries from inside. After a while, Baba started screaming in pain. When I tried to go inside, Ghosh forbade me. I waited for some more time. When Baba screamed again, I couldn’t take it anymore. I broke open the door and entered. Baba was on the bed and had deep scratches on his arms. He stood up and staggered on his way to the bathroom. When I tried to help him, he pushed me away. When he didn’t come out for a long time, I called him from outside.”
“All this happened at around 2.30 a.m.?”
“What happened afterwards?”
“He came out of the bathroom, disoriented, and collapsed on the bed. I begged madam to take him to the hospital. And Ghosh warned me again not to meddle.”
The defence lawyer continues,
“The deceased was brought to the hospital at 3.30 a.m. and was declared dead due to an overdose of Gardenal tablets. Thank you, Mr. Dass. You may leave the stand now.”
The witness quietly goes back to his chair close to Dr. Bagchi. The defence lawyer turns to face the judge. And clears his throat.
“Your honour, based on the evidence and the cross-examination I would like to present my closing argument.”
The audience holds its breath.
“A death by poisoning could be in three ways. Firstly, by accidental ingestion; secondly, by suicidal ingestion; and thirdly, by homicidal ingestion. The evidence of Dr. Parth suggests that the doctor is not certain as to whether the death by poisoning is homicidal.
Also, the evidence of Mr. Abeer Dass suggests that Mr. Kishore Bagchi was crying and he was not immobilized while conscious. According to his admission in this court, Sona Bagchi was alone with her husband in the room after they returned from the station, for quite some time. The witness then says that he forced open the door of the room and all the time Ghosh was with him. The witness further says that after he forced open the door, he found Mr. Kishore lying on the bed, and thereafter he got up to go to the bathroom. Therefore, it is not as if Mr. Kishore was immobilized so that Ms. Sona Bagchi, or as the case may be Ms. Sona Bagchi and Mr. Subroto Ghosh would be able to put some tablets into his mouth and make him swallow the same. The only two other possibilities of the introduction of the tablets into Kishore’s system could be the forcible opening of his mouth by the accused and putting the tablets into his mouth and compelling him to swallow the same or, secondly, Mr. Kishore himself taking the tablets. It must be noted here that when we see the medical evidence and more particularly, the injuries described by Dr. Parth, there is no injury on the face. The injuries were on the other parts of the body and they were extremely insignificant injuries. At least the injuries nowhere suggest that his mouth was forced open and then the tablets were put into his mouth compelling him to swallow the same.
The Trial Court has also not given sufficient attention to the fact that Sona Bagchi also tried to commit suicide and was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 309 IPC along with the offence punishable under Section 324 IPC for having caused simple injuries to Kishore. It is true, that such conviction would not come in the way of the accused being tried for the offence under Section 302 IPC, but this circumstance had to be examined, as it was a very crucial circumstance.
In view of these findings, the whole prosecution story appears to be mere conjecture and coloured by the prejudice of parental grief. Therefore, the benefit of the doubt must go to the accused persons. The appeal by Dr. Bagchi against the acquittal of Sona Bagchi for the offence under Section 302 IPC and Subroto Ghosh of all offences hold no credibility.
I hereby implore you to exonerate Ms. Sona Bagchi, setting aside the judgment of the Trial court and acquit her of all the offences.
With this, I rest my case, your honour.”
The courtroom exhales at last.
I know now, that I have to collect admissible pieces of evidence and build a solid case to show my future lies in music. My grandfather, honourable C.K. Gopal would not be convinced otherwise.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
This is a thrilling case, really well written and not the standard character choice. Very well done.
Thank you so much, Graham!
This was such a cool read!! It's so impressive that the narrator is a bystander throughout, and yet I still felt surprised and invested in the last line. So I agree with Zack about the POV. And you chose the right tag for this because it was certainly thrilling lol Thanks for sharing, Suma :)
Thank you so much for your kind and supportive comment, Shuvayon! Really appreciate it. Just loved the story you posted this week.
My favorite thing about this story is the POV, Suma. I'm not sure I've seen a first-person story like this, where the narrator was so far removed from the action and narrative, and I think it works well here because of the setting. The courtroom is the perfect place for the reader to embody the narrator and try to solve this mystery for themselves. I'm honestly not sure this story would've been successful if it happened in any other location. Great choice there, and nice use of the prompt. Can't speak on the law aspect of the story (I'm ver...
Zack! Trust you to find something good in everything. I am not too proud of this one. But hey, once out, you gotta love all your children equally, right?😂 P.S- I couldn't spot your entry this week👀. But yeah, you more than deserve a break to soak in all that success! Cheers!!
Like Michał I forgot about the narrator as I was trying to solve this casein my head! (I didn't and I trust nobody in this story 🤣) but then I was reminded of her at the end and I thought this was an interesting frame to the court case! (now I'm unsure if we were given the narrator's gender (I don't think so?), but I imagined a girl for some reason) My favourite line was: "Unless someone cries too much or too little." It really made me think - in which situation would you cry more? If you are forced to take the pills? But if it's mixed i...
The narrator is literally a mute spectator here 😂 Yup it's a girl. Riel, this week I started with two more stories and abandoned them midway. I'm wondering if it was smart of me to post this. Now that it is done, even i would like someone to solve this case for me😂
I enjoyed the intrigue! And you could write the murder (?) for a future one😃
I like the court case here :) Actually, I got so wrapped up in it I forgot that it wasn't the main story for a moment. I don't know enough about law to really dig too deep, but I get the sense the lawyer is trying to pull a fast one. But then, I also get the sense there's a family conspiracy here, so maybe that's the point. Legal matters require more than just a cursory investigation. The narrator, for her part, also doesn't seem impressed, but she's faced with a future in law. A future she doesn't want. But she's familiar with it, at le...
Thanks a ton for catching the errors, Michal and sorry you had to go through them. It was a struggle for me this week, and this was way too last minute for me. I know it came out a bit dense and unpolished, but I had to post it for the love of Saul😅
Damn it, went over my head.
I don't blame you 😅