Kripashanker Tripathi, the priest who conducted the funeral rites of Aarushi Talwar, deposed before the court on Wednesday.
Tripathi, the priest at Noida's Sector 94 cremation ground, said Aarushi's parents — Rajesh and Nupur Talwar — had booked a locker at the ground to keep the teenager's remains but they withdrew them within half an hour and left for Haridwar.
"Those who had come to collect ashes had procured locker number 9. The remains were kept inside the locker for half an hour. Then they took them away," he said.CBI special public prosecutor RK Saini said: "We want to prove that the accused booked the locker and then they decided to leave for Haridwar for immersing ashes in a hurried manner so that Hemraj's body can be recovered in their absence." Defence counsel Manoj Shishodia argued that his clients had an option to proceed to Hardiwar even without procuring the locker. He said that family elders had advised for immersion of ashes (of unmarried youth) on the same day when ashes are collected.
"They (family elders) also said that Sunday would not be auspicious for immersion and a prayer-meeting was scheduled for Monday. So they decided to proceed to Haridwar on Saturday (May 17, 2008) itself," he added.
The CBI, in its closure report, had pointed out that "the call details and statements by KK Gautam indicate that detection of Hemraj's body was not a mere coincidence".
Gautam had told the court that when he and Dr Sushil Chaudhary reached Talwars' residence on May 17, 2008 at 10am, Dinesh Talwar said that Rajesh and Nupur had gone to Haridwar for immersion of ashes. Later, Dinesh asked Gautam to call up the police, which broke the lock of terrace-door and recovered Hemraj's body.
Tripathi was named in the list of the 13 "material witnesses" which the CBI had produced before the Supreme Court.