Tal­wars ac­quit­ted in Aarushi case

Daugh­ter, do­mes­tic help Hem­raj found dead in 2008 Bench re­verses con­vic­tion of cou­ple by CBI court in 2013 Guilt not proven be­yond doubt: Al­la­habad HC judges

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - Omar Rashid

The Al­la­habad High Court on Thurs­day ac­quit­ted den­tist cou­ple Ra­jesh and Nupur Talwar and quashed their con­vic­tion in the 2008 mur­der of their teenage daugh­ter Aarushi and do­mes­tic help Hem­raj in Noida.

A Di­vi­sion Bench, com­pris­ing Jus­tices B.K. Narayana and A.K. Mishra, pro­nounced the judg­ment on an ap­peal filed by the cou­ple chal­leng­ing their con­vic­tion by a spe­cial Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion court in Ghazi­abad in Novem­ber 2013. The Tal­wars had been sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment.

‘No clinch­ing ev­i­dence’

Stat­ing that there was no clinch­ing ev­i­dence that the Tal­wars com­mit­ted the crime, the court, while read­ing out the op­er­a­tive part of the judg­ment, said the “ben­e­fit of doubt” in the case seemed to go in their favour. “In cases where you de­pend on cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence... the ben­e­fit of the doubt goes to the ac­cused,” the court said.

The CBI failed to prove “be­yond rea­son­able doubt” that the cou­ple com­mit­ted the mur­ders, not­ing that all cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence did not tally to prove them guilty. Ac­cept­ing the ar­gu­ment of coun­sel for the Tal­wars that the case against them was based en­tirely on cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence, the court also said the chain of ev­i­dence as pre­sented by the CBI was in­con­clu­sive.

The court noted there were many short­com­ings in the trial court ver­dict and dis­missed its “ir­re­sistible con­clu­sion” that the Tal­wars had com­mit­ted the crime.

The Tal­wars, who are lodged in the Dasna jail in Ghazi­abad, could be re- leased on Fri­day, their law- yers said.

The Al­la­habad High Court, in its ver­dict on Thurs­day ac­quit­ting the den­tist-cou­ple Ra­jesh and Nupur Talwar in the 2008 mur­der of their daugh­ter Aarushi and do­mes­tic help Hem­raj, dis­missed the trial court’s con­tention that since no­body else but the par­ents were present in the house on the night of the killings, only they were likely to have com­mit­ted the crime.

Dileep Ku­mar, coun­sel for the Tal­wars, said, “The hon­ourable High Court judges did not agree with this and said many other cir­cum­stances could be pos­si­ble. Un­til there is con­clu­sive ev­i­dence, which was not found in this case, the con­vic­tion can­not be up­held.”

Tan­veer Ahmed Mir, the lead coun­sel of the ac­cused, said, “Both the hon­ourable judges found that the cases against the Talwar cou­ple were base­less and the ev­i­dence pro­duced was not strong enough. None of the cir­cum­stances pointed to the guilt of the par­ents. The trial court judg­ment was based on su­per­fi­cial as­sump­tions and pre­sump­tions,” Mr. Mir said.

The lawyer said be­tween Septem­ber 22, 2016 and Jan­uary 11, when the Tal­wars’ ap­peal, which ran into 3,000 pages, was heard, 16 cir­cum­stances were ar­gued in court and that the de­fence “proved that not a sin­gle cir­cum­stance went against the cou­ple.”

“As per the op­er­a­tive por­tion of the judg­ment, there was a strong case of al­ter­nate the­ory of killers. It was the CBI’s own case that there could be other killers or ac­cused,” he said.

Aarushi Talwar, 14, was found dead with her throat slit in her bed­room in flat no. L-32 Jal­vayu Vi­har in Noida on the morn­ing of May 16, 2008. The body of the fam­ily’s do­mes­tic help, Hem­raj, who was ini­tially sus­pected of her mur­der, was found in a pool of blood on the ter­race the fol­low­ing day. The door of the ter­race was found locked from in­side.

The case was handed over to the CBI af­ter the Noida po­lice was crit­i­cised for a botched in­ves­ti­ga­tion with loss of cru­cial foren­sic ev­i­dence.

In his judg­ment in 2013, spe­cial CBI Judge S. Lal had said from the ev­i­dence ten­dered by the pros­e­cu­tion, the “court reaches to the ir­re­sistible and im­pec­ca­ble con­clu­sion that only the ac­cused per­sons [Tal­wars] are re­spon­si­ble for com­mit­ting this ghastly crime.” The Tal­wars were also con­victed for de­struc­tion of ev­i­dence with com­mon in­tent, while Ra­jesh was ad­di­tion­ally con­victed of giv­ing a false state­ment to the po­lice.

The trial court had stated 26 points of ev­i­dence on the ba­sis of which it found the cou­ple guilty. It said there was no ev­i­dence to show that any out­sider came in­side the house af­ter 9.30 p.m. on the night of the mur­der or that there was any forcible en­try or larce­nous act in the flat.

VIVEK SHARMA ■

Tal­wars’ ad­vo­cate Tan­veer Ah­mad Mir af­ter the court ver­dict.

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