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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014

Aarushi murder case: Circumstances led to Talwars’ conviction

Satya Prakash, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 27, 2013
First Published: 00:56 IST(27/11/2013) | Last Updated: 01:30 IST(27/11/2013)

As many wonder how Special CBI Judge Shyam Lal has convicted Rajesh and Nupur Talwar for the murders of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj in the absence of any eye-witnesses and cogent forensic evidence, his 210-page verdict explains the guilt of the convicts.

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“Proof does not mean proof to rigid mathematical demonstration, because that is impossible; it must mean such evidence as would induce a reasonable man to come to a particular conclusion,” Lal said quoting Lord Fletcher Moulton.

The special judge based the couple’s conviction on a chain of 26 circumstances that pointed to their guilt and said: “Law gives absolute discretion to the court to presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened.”

The discretion was clearly envisaged in section 114 of the Evidence Act, the judge said, adding, “Presumption is an inference of a certain fact drawn from other proved facts.”

According to section 114, “The court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business, in their relation to the facts of the particular case.”

Listing 26 circumstances that “unerringly” pointed towards the hypothesis of guilt of the accused (see box), the judge said: “From the evidence as tendered by the prosecution in the form of oral and documentary evidence, this court reaches the irresistible and impeccable conclusion that only the accused persons are responsible for committing this ghastly crime.”

In a criminal case, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution. The benefit of doubt, if any, goes to the accused.

However, the court used Section 106 that lays down the rule that when the accused does not throw any light upon facts that are specially within his knowledge and which could not support any theory or hypothesis compatible with his innocence, the court can consider his failure to adduce any explanation as an additional link which completes the chain.

There were four people in the house and two of them were found dead. In the absence of any evidence suggesting entry of outsiders, the court concluded their failure to explain it against the couple.

Supreme Court advocate Sanjay Hegde said, “Courts can base conviction on circumstantial evidence and Section 106 is very clear: when a fact is especially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him.

But, many questions, particularly about handling of forensic evidence by various probe teams, remain unanswered.

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