BEN­E­FIT OF THE DOUBT

AARUSHI MUR­DER: Cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence was not clinch­ing enough for high court

The Free Press Journal - - FRONT PAGE - RAJENDRA GUPTA

The Al­la­habad High Court on Thurs­day ac­quit­ted Nupur and Ra­jesh Tal­war in the 2008 mur­der of their teenage daugh­ter Aarushi and do­mes­tic help Hem­raj, say­ing that nei­ther the cir­cum­stances nor the ev­i­dence was clinch­ing enough to hold them guilty.

The ver­dict ends the nineyear or­deal of the Noid­abased den­tist cou­ple who were sen­tenced to life by a Ghazi­abad CBI court on Novem­ber 28, 2013, for the dou­ble mur­der that cap­ti­vated and shook the na­tion with its el­e­ment of fil­i­cide.

The Tal­wars are ex­pected to be freed on Fri­day from Ghazi­abad's Dasna jail af­ter the com­ple­tion of pa­per­work. "I am grate­ful to the ju­di­ciary for the ver­dict," said B G Chit­nis, Nupur's fa­ther and a for­mer Group Cap­tain in the In­dian Air Force. "They have re­ally suf­fered. They are emo­tion­ally drained. At my age it was very try­ing to see my daugh­ter be­hind bars," he told re­porters in New Delhi.

"It's been an ex­haust­ing jour­ney for us. We are re­ally grate­ful to the high court for end­ing the in­jus­tice meted out to them," said Van­dana Tal­war, an aunt of Aarushi who was 14 when she was killed.

A di­vi­sion bench com­pris­ing jus­tices B K Narayana and A K Mishra up­held the Tal­wars' ap­peal against the CBI court ver­dict, hold­ing that the cir­cum­stances of the case and the ev­i­dence on record did not es­tab­lish a chain of events show­ing their in­volve­ment in the mur­ders of Aarushi and Hem­raj.

Pro­nounc­ing the ver­dict in a packed court room, the bench said that it is a fit case where ben­e­fit of the doubt can be given to the ap­pel­lants and set aside the judge­ment of the CBI court con­vict­ing the Tal­wars who were ar­rested in May 2008. The CBI said it would study the High Court or­der and de­cide the fu­ture course of ac­tion. The jailor of the Dasna prison said the Tal­wars watched the pro­ceed­ings on tele­vi­sion.

Lawyer Re­becca John, who was part of Tal­wars' le­gal team, said she was re­lieved. She claimed the whole case was based on "in­nu­en­dos" and would "not have car­ried through". John hoped that the Tal­wars, who have been in me­dia spot­light for over nine years, will be al­lowed pri­vacy af­ter their re­lease.

Aarushi was found dead in­side her room in the Tal­wars' Noida res­i­dence with her throat slit in May 2008. The sus­pi­cion ini­tially fell on 45-year-old Hem­raj, who at the time was miss­ing. But his body was re­cov­ered from the ter­race of the house a day later. As the Ut­tar Pradesh Po­lice drew flak over shoddy in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the case which was mak­ing na­tional head­lines, the then chief min­is­ter Mayawati rec­om­mended a probe by the Cen­tral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI).

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