9 years after Aarushi’s murder, Talwar couple acquitted by HC
Rajesh & Nupur to be freed from Dasna Jail today Court gave them benefit of doubt
Nine years after being accused of and charged with murdering their teenaged daughter Aarushi and servant Hemraj, dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were acquitted by the Allahabad high court on Thursday. The high court rejected the CBI report and held that the Talwars were “not guilty” in the case. The court has ordered their immediate release. The Talwars could be freed from Ghaziabad’s Dasna Jail, where they have been serving their life sentence since November 2013, on Friday.
Jailor Dadhiram Maurya told the media that Nupur Talwar, who was watching the proceedings on TV while being lodged in the jail along with her husband Rajesh, broke down.and said that they had finally “got justice”.
The high court gave the couple the benefit of the doubt and quashed their life sentence. A division bench comprising Justices B.K. Narayana and A.K. Misra upheld the Talwars’ appeal against the CBI court order sentencing them to life imprisonment on November 26, 2013. The judges observed the circumstantial evidence against them was inadequate, and that the CBI had failed to fill in the gaps in the evidence.
Aarushi Talwar, 14, was found murdered in her room in Noida on May 16, 2008 and the missing servant Hemraj, 45, was initially suspected of being the killer. However, a day later Hemraj’s body was found on the terrace of the house in which the Talwar family lived.
As the Allhabad high court quashed the life sentence of the Talwars, the CBI’s lawyers said they would study the high court’s judgment and then
decide whether it should be challenged in the Supreme Court or not.
It may be recalled that during the trial, the Talwars had raised objections over how the CBI had put together facts to build the so-called circumstantial evidence.
Incidentally, neither of the accused had confessed to the murder, and the murder weapon, allegedly a golf club with their fingerprints on it, was never found. Though the prosecution had established that the Talwars were present at the house during the murder, it failed to establish that the accused had in any way committed the crime. On the basis of circumstantial evidence, the CBI had argued that Aarushi was killed allegedly by Rajesh Talwar after he found her in a “compromising position” with Hemraj. The CBI alleged Rajesh also killed Hemraj.
The CBI also went on to accuse the dentist couple of tampering with evidence, but again could not come up with any clear evidence connecting them to the murders. Following its failure to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Talwars were involved in the double murder, the CBI filed a closure report in December 2010.
The CBI court, however, did not accept the closure report and asked the investigative agency to proceed in its probe. In 2013, the CBI court convicted the couple of murder under Section 302 IPC, destruction of evidence (Section 201) and common intention to commit the crime (Section 34).
It was not only the CBI but also the Uttar Pradesh police that was pulled up by the high court for reportedly botching up the crime scene by allowing visitors to walk all over it. The police also did not bother to search the terrace of the house even though bloodstains were clearly visible on the staircase, and announced its honour killing theory even before the investigations were over.
The Allahabad high court was apparently not satisfied with the CBI’s contention, which was not supported by adequate circumstantial evidence, and felt that the couple should be given the benefit of the doubt.
Mr Meer Tanvir Ahmad, counsel for the Talwars, said the court pointed out that there was a “strong alternative theory” in the case. He said the court turned down the CBI’s theory that there was no third person in the house when the murders took place.
It may be mentioned here that there were contradictory theories surrounding the murder. The first CBI team probing the case had indicated that three other servants — Krishna, Raj Kumar and Vijay Mandal — had been drinking in Hemraj’s room and had insisted on going to Aarushi’s room, but that Hemraj had objected. This first team claimed Hemraj was killed by the three when he stopped them from going to Aarushi’s room. The three men later went to Aarushi’s room and murdered her when she tried to raise the alarm. The Talwar couple, who were sleeping in the adjoining room, could not hear their daughter’s screams due to a noisy airconditioner.
For no apparent reason, the first team was suddenly replaced and the next team claimed that Rajesh Talwar had killed his daughter and servant in a fit of rage while his wife Nupur had helped him dress up the evidence. Incidentally, the second team in a way adhered to the theory initially put forward by the UP police team mmediately after the double murder.