BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT
AARUSHI MURDER: Circumstantial evidence was not clinching enough for high court
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).