Aarushi case: HC acquits Talwars over lack of proof
NINE YEARS ON Dentist couple will be released today; CBI to approach SC
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.
The parents cannot be held guilty just because they were present in the house when murder took place. They should get the benefit of doubt. They are being set free. ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT
NEW DELHI: Nearly a decade after one of the most sensational murders in India, no one knows for sure who killed Aarushi Talwar.
Neither does there is clarity on the death of Hemraj, the domestic help employed in the Noida residence of Aarushi’s dentist parents, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar.
Conspiracy theories have swirled around the twin murders – the bodies recovered a day apart from the same house – a book-selling book written and even a Bollywood film made on the incident that grabbed headlines for months and riveted the nation.
On Thursday, the Allahabad high court acquitted the Talwars in the murder of their 14-year-old teenage daughter and Hemraj, bringing the spotlight back on the same old question: who killed Aarushi?
The Delhi Public School student was found with her throat slit and stab wounds to her head, in her bedroom on May 14, 2008. The immediate suspect was Hemraj, from Nepal, who was missing.
But a day later, his body was found on the terrace of the Talwar’s apartment block.
Uttar Pradesh police, which probed the crime initially, then shifted focus to the Talwars, the only other people present in the house on the night of the incident.
Police were accused of shoddy investigation as they reportedly failed to collect crucial evidence and did not even seal the crime scene, the Talwars’ home.
Police then arrested Rajesh on charges of killing his daughter in a fit of rage when he allegedly saw her in an “objectionable position” with Hemraj. “This is a classic example of a case where the crime scene, which provides vital clues to take the investigation forward, was trampled with,” said former CBI official NR Wasan.
The CBI’s first investigation team, led by UP cadre IPS officer Arun Kumar, however, gave Rajesh a clean chit and accused the Talwars’ assistant Krishna and two servants -- Raj Kumar and Vijay Mandal.
It, however, failed to prove its case and there were accusations the agency was trying to frame them by forcing confessions.
The second twist came when Ashwani Kumar took over as the CBI director in July, 2008.
Sources said he was not convinced with the first team’s assessment reconstituted the team with a mandate to look afresh at every aspect of the case.
The new probe led by AGL Kaul completed its investigation in 2010 and concluded that Talwar and wife should be chargesheeted in the case.
The agency’s lawyers also concurred with it, but still the top officials were not convinced that they had enough evidence to prove charges in court.
The probe team’s argument was, no outsider visited the Talwars when the murders happened and the others were innocent. It, however, claimed the crime scene was heavily dressed up, leading to suspicion it was the doing of Aarushi’s parents.
“But still there was no clinching evidence to show it were the Talwars who murdered their daughter and Hemraj,” said a former CBI officer wanting to remain anonymous.
“But we had no eyewitness. Murder weapon was also missing. There was no visible motive in sight for the parents to kill their daughter and servant. Therefore despite, the parents being prime suspect, the closure report was filed.”
The closure report was filed when AP Singh took over from Ashwani Kumar as the CBI director in November 2010.
But the Ghaziabad court found enough evidence in the closure report to convert it into a chargesheet and summoned the Talwars in the case. After trial, the court found both of them guilty in the case on November 25, 2013. A day later they were sentenced for life.
And nearly four years later, the higher court acquitted them , giving the Talwars the “benefit of doubt” in the face of insufficient evidence.