Talwars did not do it, so who murdered daughter Aarushi?
Tears of relief for doctor couple after Allahabad HC acquits them; case back to square one as circumstantial evidence relied upon by CBI found inadequate
THURSDAY was a day of high trepidation, and some hope, for Rajesh and Nupur Talwar. It ended with relief for the doctor couple.
Just days earlier, Rajesh’s brother, Dinesh, had visited the couple in Dasna Jail, on the outskirts of Delhi, to tell them that the verdict in the murder case of their daughter, Aarushi, and servant Hemraj would be delivered on October 12.
As the Allahabad High Court pronounced its verdict on their appeal shortly before 3pm, and jail officials rushed to cell number 13 to tell Nupur of the judgment, the Talwars found it difficult to hold back tears. Their appeal against the life sentence given to them had worked.
Dasna Jail superintendent D R Maurya, who broke the news to the couple, told reporters that Rajesh hugged him before breaking down. “Nupur was silent but she was also in tears,” he added.
The Allahabad HC acquitted the Talwars in the sensational 2008 murder of their teenage daughter and domestic help Hemraj, saying neither the circumstances nor the evidence was enough to hold them guilty.
On November 28, 2013, the couple was found guilty by a CBI court for the double murder that spawned at least one Bollywood potboiler and a book that blew holes in the investigation conducted by the CBI, the country’s premier investigating agency. “We are relieved,” was all Dinesh, Rajesh’s brother, would say.
Vishal Bhardwaj, one of the producers of the film Talvar, said in a statement: “I am overwhelmed and relieved to hear of the Talwars’ acquittal and this strengthens my faith in the Indian judicial system. However, it still pains me when I think about the precious years lost in prison and the emotional trauma that the parents had to go through.”
The story is now back to being one of India’s biggest whodunits. The CBI may yet challenge the acquittal but legal experts think differently.
In and around the apartment in Noida’s Jalvayu Vihar, where the murders were committed, the buzz among neighbours of the Talwars continued to reflect the confusion, lies, slander, mystery and the plain ineptness of a botched investigation.
“It was a haunted place for the people in Jalvayu Vihar but still we decided to move into the flat where Aarushi and Hemraj were killed,” Monika Shukla, the Talwars’ tenant, told Express.
The Delhi Public School in the neighbourhood where Aarushi studied held a special prayer meeting. Thursday’s order acquits the Talwar couple of the murder charges. But it does not answer the question who killed Aarushi and Hemraj.
THE sordid nine-year-old Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case underwent perhaps a final twist Thursday when the Allahabad High Court acquitted Aarushi’s parents — Dr Rajesh Talwar and Dr Nupur Tawlar — convicted by the CBI trial court which had awarded them life sentence in the case. The High Court order, however, has brought the more relevant question of who killed Aarushi Talwar and domestic help Hemraj on May 15, 2008 back to the spotlight.
The High Court quashed the CBI court order and set aside the life sentence the couple had been serving in Ghaziabad’s Dasna jail since Novemebr 2013. Delivering the verdict on Talwars’ appeal aganist the CBI court order, the division bench comprising justices Bala Krishna Narain and Arvind Kumar Mishra, observed that the benefit of doubt could be given to the couple who could not be convicted on the basis of suspicion
It’s been an exhausting journey for us. We are really grateful to the High Court for having aquitted and ending the injustice meted out to them Vandana Talwar, an aunt of Aarushi
and the record of circumstantial evidence which failed to establish the chain of circumstances against them.
Making these observations, the court set aside the judgment of CBI Court, Ghaziabad, dated November 26, 2013. The Talwars were convicted in the double murder case of their 14-year-old daughter Aarushi, and their domestic help Hemraj, 45, by the CBI court. They had moved the High Court on January 21, 2014, challenging their conviction and subsequent life sentence awarded to them by the CBI trial court in Ghaziabad.
The division bench of the High Court directed the authorities concerned to release both the appellants forthwith. However, the CBI in all likelihood may move the Supreme Court against the HC order.
Earlier, the court had reserved its judgment on January 9, 2017, but started the re-hearing in the criminal appeal on August 1, 2017, to clarify certain points. The court had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to clarify certain contradictions in its probe report filed in the court. The re-hearing in the case concluded on September 7, 2017, and the High Court had reserved the order fixing October 12 as the date for delivery of the verdict.
After many twists and turns, the much-hyped double murder case which shook the nation, remains unsolved and may be regarded as a glaring example of botched up investigation by probe agencies who seemed to have lost track of investigation right from the beginning, leaving behind more questions than answers. With three probe teams all through, over half a dozen arrests, testimony of over 80 witnesses and the High Court hearing the case, the question mark over the real killer persists.
Aarushi and Hemraj were murdered on the intervening night of May 15 and 16, 2008. When Aarushi’s body was found on May 16, the missing servant, Hemraj, was considered the main suspect. But the next day, Hemraj’s partially decomposed body was discovered on the terrace of the flat.
Initially, the Noida police with a superficial investigation jumped to the conclusion that it was a case of honour killing and implicated Rajesh Talwar as the main killer who found Aarushi with Hemraj and could not stomach their closeness and killed both in a fit of rage. The character of the 14-year-old deceased was dissected ruthlessly by the top cops at an infamous press conference then, putting forth the honour killing theory.
After a lot of clamour and outrage over the honour killing theory, the probe was handed over to the CBI. Stories of the Talwars’ personal life and relationships also made the rounds and that was when the probe derailed as the agencies lost track and were working on a number of theories.
Though the CBI investigation was being led by one of its most bright officers — joint director Arun Kumar — he based his inquiry mainly on technical proof, including narco-analysis tests. He claimed that three men — Talwar’s compounder Krishna, and two domestic helps working in the neighbourhood, Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal — were the killers. The three were arrested but released on July 11, 2008, due to lack of evidence.
File picture of Rajesh, Nupur Talwar
Rajesh and Nupur Talwar’s counsel Tanveer Ahmed Mir talks to the media after the Allahabad High Court’s verdict on the twin murders, in Allahabad on Thursday | PTI