This murder awaits closure

The trial court’s verdict in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case throws up more questions
in the five-year-old murky saga
Souzeina Mushtaq Delhi 

For more than five years now, the question of who killed Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj has either roused confusion or a trenchant debate. On November 25, a trial court in Ghaziabad convicted the dentist couple, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, of killing their daughter and domestic help, Hemraj, on the intervening night of May15-16, 2008. The court sentenced them to life imprisonment. Although the parents had been accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of the gruesome murders, the verdict remains hotly contested. Deprived of yet another closure, the Talwars are likely to go to a higher court to seek relief.

Aarushi, it may be recalled, was found dead with her throat slit in her bedroom on May 15, and the domestic help, Hemraj, was suspected of the murder. On May 17, Hemraj’s body was found on the terrace of the house. Police suspected the parents, saying the murder was carved out with “surgical precision”. The allegations made by the UP Police were that Rajesh Talwar, Aarushi’s father, killed her in a fit of rage after he found Aarushi and Hemraj in an “objectionable but not compromising” position. Later, when the Delhi Police joined the probe, Rajesh was arrested for the
double murder.

The case kept gaining eyeballs, and amid growing media scrutiny, the then UP Chief Minister, Mayawati, handed it over to the CBI. A CBI team, under Joint Director Arun Kumar, concluded that Krishna, the help at Talwar’s clinic, had allegedly committed the murders with his friend, Rajkumar, the domestic help of the Talwars’ friends, and Vijay Mandal, a driver working for the Talwars’ neighbour.

However, then CBI Director Ashwani Kumar had trashed the findings, and in 2009, constituted a new team to look into the case. After a year of intense probing, the team cleared the servants and hinted at the role of Rajesh on the basis of “circumstantial evidence”. The team then filed a closure report in the case on December 29, 2010, citing “insufficient evidence”, which was rejected by District Magistrate Priti Singh. She ordered the Talwars to stand trial in the case.

 

The Talwars subsequently moved the Allahabad High Court, which dismissed their pleas to quash the trial court summons and the proceedings initiated against them. They then approached the apex court but were denied relief there as well.

The trial in the murder case started in 2012, and went on  for nearly a year-and-a-half. The final arguments were made on October 10, summing up the case against Rajesh and Nupur. The CBI maintained that, except for the family, no one was present in the house on the night of the murder, and concluded that the Talwars killed their daughter and the help.

Special CBI judge Shyam Lal said the sentence of life imprisonment for the five-and-a-half-year-old sensational double murder appeared “just and proper”. According to the verdict, the couple was convicted under Sections 302 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), while Rajesh was also convicted on an additional charge under Section 203 for filing a false FIR. Soon after the verdict was announced, the couple broke down. “We are deeply disappointed, hurt and anguished over the conviction. We refuse to feel defeated and will continue to fight for justice,” they said in a statement. Satyaketu Singh, the Talwars’ lawyer, expressed disappointment with the judgment, saying, “It is wrong as there was no evidence.” On the other hand, the CBI lawyer for the case, RK Saini, stated, “The Court said according to the circumstances, there is no one else who could commit the crime.” Meanwhile, senior advocate Abha Singh said, “This was a gruesome incident. It was an open and shut case. While the defence counsel had pleaded for leniency, the CBI was arguing for the death penalty.” The duo was taken into custody after the verdict. Their lawyer said they would appeal to a higher court against the decision.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: DECEMBER 2013