iconimg Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Peeyush Khandelwal , Hindustan Times
Ghaziabad, November 12, 2013
Nearly five-and-a-half years after 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar and domestic worker Hemraj Banjade were found murdered at the flat of her parents Rajesh and Nupur in Noida, the trial in the case came to an end at a Ghaziabad court where special judge Shyam Lal reserved the order for November 25.

Both Rajesh and Nupur are charged with murder and destruction of evidence with common intention. Rajesh has additionally been charged under Section 203 of the Indian Penal Code for lodging a false initial FIR in the case with Noida police.

The case took a near U-turn after the first team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which took over the probe from Noida Police on May 31, 2008, could not find evidence against the three earlier suspects, domestic helps Krishna Thadarai, Raj Kumar and Vijay Mandal.

The agency later filed a case closure report before the special judicial magistrate (SJM) in December 2011, pointing the finger of suspicion at Aarushi’s parents. The SJM, Priti Singh, took cognisance and summoned both Rajesh and Nupur as accused.

After exercising legal options and knocking on the doors of the Supreme Court, Nupur surrendered before the SJM and was remanded in judicial custody on April 30, 2012. The charges against the couple were framed on May 25, 2012, and trial began at the court of special judge Shyam Lal with the CBI producing 39 prosecution witnesses of a list of 141 prosecution witnesses.

The CBI’s case is based purely on circumstantial evidence because of the lack of direct evidence against the two accused.

During the trial, the agency maintained that murders were committed by the two accused as no outsider seemed to be involved. Of the four persons present at the L-32 house, two were found murdered, the agency said.

CBI special public prosecutor RK Saini maintained that there was no proof of any outsiders’ entry, the scene of crime had been heavily dressed up, Aarushi’s body had been tampered and Hemraj’s body was concealed on the terrace of the flat and there was destruction of evidence by the accused.

The defence produced seven of their witnesses and cross-examined the prosecution witnesses. In the final argument stages, the defence tried to punch holes in the CBI’s theory.

Defence lawyer Tanvir Ahmed Mir said there was no evidence to show the presence of Hemraj in Aarushi’s room and this countered the CBI’s arguments.

According to the defence lawyers, a golf club that had allegedly been used as a murder weapon could not have caused blunt injuries and another, a surgical scalpel, was never found. The defence said “major improvements” were made by several of the prosecution witnesses to support the CBI’s theory and case properties were also allegedly tampered with.

Rajesh had to answer 804 questions and Nupur 808 questions posed by the special judge.