Aarushi case: HC ac­quits Tal­wars over lack of proof

Den­tist cou­ple will be re­leased to­day; CBI to ap­proach SC

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - FRONT PAGE - Ji­ten­dra Sarin and Peeyush Khan­del­wal

AL­LA­HABAD/GHAZI­ABAD: The Al­la­habad high court ac­quit­ted on Thurs­day Ra­jesh and Nupur Tal­war in the 2008 mur­der of their 14-year-old daugh­ter Aarushi and do­mes­tic help Hem­raj, giv­ing the “ben­e­fit of doubt” to the ac­cused in the face of in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence.

A bench of judges BK Narayana and AK Mishra set aside the life sen­tence given to the den­tist cou­ple by a spe­cial CBI court in 2013 and or­dered that the two be re­leased im­me­di­ately from jail.

“Cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence was not ad­e­quate for a con­vic­tion beyond doubt,” the court said, adding that nei­ther the cir­cum­stances nor the ev­i­dence on record es­tab­lished the cou­ple’s in­volve­ment in the crime.

The judg­ment brings down the cur­tains on one of In­dia’s most sen­sa­tional mur­der tri­als that sparked nu­mer­ous con­spir­acy the­o­ries with many ac­cus­ing the po­lice of bungling the probe.

“We are grate­ful to ev­ery­one... I have seen them (Ra­jesh and Nupur) suf­fer,” said Aarushi’s grand­fa­ther BG Chit­nis.

On May 16, 2008, Aarushi was found mur­dered in­side her bed­room in the Tal­wars’ flat in Noida’s posh Jal­vayu Vi­har — her throat slit with sur­gi­cal pre­ci­sion. The po­lice ini­tially sus­pected the miss­ing house help from Nepal, Hem­raj, but his de­com­posed body was found a day later from in­side a locked room on the build­ing’s ter­race.

The po­lice then be­gan to sus­pect the Tal­wars and said Ra­jesh, the fa­ther, had mur­dered the two af­ter find­ing them in an “ob­jec­tion­able” po­si­tion. The case was later trans­ferred to the Cen­tral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We are sat­is­fied with the judg­ment and are greatly re­lieved. We be­lieve jus­tice has been done as the court has set aside the trial court’s or­der for lack of suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence,” said de­fence coun­sel Dilip Ku­mar, who rep­re­sented the Tal­wars.

The HC also pointed out “var­i­ous short­com­ings” in the lower court’s judg­ment, while rul­ing in favour of the de­fen­dants who had chal­lenged the ver­dict.

Jail of­fi­cials at Dasna said the cou­ple were pray­ing since the morn­ing and burst into tears as soon as the judg­ment was an­nounced. “When we went to Ra­jesh, he hugged me and burst into tears. He said that jus­tice has been de­liv­ered,” said DR Mau­rya, jail su­per­in­ten­dent. He said the cou­ple was likely to be re­leased on Fri­day af­ter the prison au­thor­i­ties re­ceived a copy of the court or­der.

Sources in the CBI said they would de­cide the next course of ac­tion af­ter study­ing the ver­dict.

The high court ver­dict caps a se­ries of twists and turns in the trial of a case that gripped the na­tion. Within weeks of the mur­der, the Ut­tar Pradesh po­lice drew flak for do­ing a shoddy job and al­legedly tam­per­ing ev­i­dence. Then chief min­is­ter Mayawati then handed over the case to the CBI.

Two CBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors reached dif­fer­ing con­clu­sions on the ba­sis of more or less the same ev­i­dence.

The first team led by Arun Ku­mar claimed a break­through on the ba­sis of “sci­en­tific ev­i­dence”, pri­mar­ily narco-anal­y­sis test re­ports, and ar­rested three men— Tal­war’s com­pounder

Kr­ishna and two do­mes­tic helps work­ing in the neigh­bour­hood, Ra­jku­mar and Vi­jay Man­dal. But the agency even­tu­ally failed to build a case against them.

An­other team probed the par­ents but it too failed to build a case, fil­ing a clo­sure re­port in 2009 that named Ra­jesh Tal­war as the sole sus­pect based on cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence but re­fused to charge him due to lack of ev­i­dence.

But a spe­cial CBI court re­jected the fed­eral agency’s claim that there was not enough ev­i­dence, and or­dered pro­ceed­ings against the Tal­wars.

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