Beyond a reasonable doubt. That was what the High Court’s verdict hung on while acquitting Rajesh and Nupur Talwar for the double murder of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj. More than nine years after the gruesome murders there seems to be no clear answer as to the who, why and how of the murders. After the UP police botched up the scene of the crime and the collection of evidence in the first 15 days of the crime, after which the CBI stepped in, even the country’s premier agency was not able to corroborate enough evidence to nail the killers. The parents were sent to jail on circumstantial evidence as it was proved that no one had entered the Talwar house that night nor had anyone left the house. There were four people in the house of which two were found dead. Yet the investigating agencies could not prove beyond reasonable doubt and so the court granted the couple the benefit of the doubt and freed them. Will the case turn cold now?
Serving a life term, dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were on Thursday acquitted by the Allahabad High Court for the murders of their teenage daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj giving them the benefit of doubt, a verdict that left questions still unanswered on who was behind the sensational killings nine years ago.
A bench of Justice B.K. Narayana and Justice A.K. Mishra set free the couple in the murder of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar at their Jalvayu Vihar home in Noida on May 16, 2008.
Tanveer Ahmed Mir, lawyer for the couple, said they were able to prove that the CBI case had no basis or legs to stand on. “Once the basis of the prosecution was knocked out because it was unbelievable, then there was no motive. There was no sterling witness.”
Aditya Wadhwa, another defence lawyer, said just because there was no other person present in the room, where Aarushi was found dead, it was unjustified to blame the parents for the murder.
He said both the judges found the charges against them baseless and there was no strength in the allegations of the CBI.
Dhruv Gupta, another counsel for the accused parents, said there was no eyewitness and in a case which depended on circumstantial evidence “the law of the land is that the benefit of doubt goes to the accused”.
“Also, when there is an alternative hypothesis (of some other killer), the benefit of doubt again goes to the accused.”
The couple is expected to be set free from Dasna jail in Ghaziabad on Friday. Their relatives expressed happiness over the judgement, saying finally the ordeal is over for the couple.
“I am thankful to the judiciary for giving a positive verdict. It has been a stressful life since Aarushi Talwar was killed. I am grateful for the acquittal of Rajesh and Nupur. Allow us to soak in the news. We always knew they were not guilty,” Aarushi’s maternal grandfather B.G. Chitnis said.
Reacting to the verdict, the CBI said it would study the Allahabad High Court order and “decide the future course of action”.
Pinaki Mishra, the lawyer who appeared for the couple in the Supreme Court, said the CBI will have no case to argue in the Supreme Court. “In fact, they will have to answer a number of questions in the Supreme Court as to why they did not investigate properly.”
After a Special CBI Court in Ghaziabad convicted them for the murders in 2013 and handed them life terms, the Talwars appealed in the Allahabad High Court against the verdict.
Former CBI Director A.P. Singh, who then headed the agency when it took over the case, said: “There were loopholes in our investigation and that is why we had closed the case saying it was inconclusive.”
He said the High Court verdict “does not say that the Talwars didn’t do it” but that there was not enough evidence against them.
Aarushi was found murdered in her bedroom, following which Hemraj was initially a suspect. However, his body too was found in a pool of blood a day later on the terrace of the house.
The Uttar Pradesh Police accused Rajesh Talwar of killing his daughter in a fit of rage after he allegedly found Aarushi in a compromising situation with Hemraj. Rajesh Talwar was arrested on May 23, 2008.
On May 31, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the case. It initially absolved the parents of conspiracy and murder but later held them responsible.
On June 13, Rajesh Talwar’s compounder Krishna was arrested by the CBI. Ten days later, Raj Kumar, a servant of a doctor friend of the Talwars, and Vijay Mandal, the domestic help of the Talwars’ neighbour, were also nabbed.
The three were later freed after no evidence was found against them. (IANS)