Aarushi-Hemraj murder case: Allahabad HC acquits Nupur and Rajesh Talwar, gives them benefit of doubt
The Allahabad high court on Thursday acquitted Nupur and Rajesh Talwar in the 2008 murder of their14-year-old daughter Aarushi Talwar and domestic help Hemraj in Noida.
The Allahabad high court acquitted on Thursday Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in the 2008 murder of their 14-year-old daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj, giving the “benefit of doubt” to the accused in the face of insufficient evidence.
A bench of judges BK Narayana and AK Mishra set aside the life sentence given to the dentist couple by a special CBI court in 2013 and ordered that the two be released immediately from jail. (Live updates)
“Circumstantial evidence was not adequate for a conviction beyond doubt,” the court said, adding that neither the circumstances nor the evidence on record established the couple’s involvement in the crime.
The judgment brings down the curtains on one of India’s most sensational murder trials that sparked numerous conspiracy theories with many accusing the police of bungling the probe.
“We are grateful to everyone... I have seen them (Rajesh and Nupur) suffer,” said Aarushi’s grandfather BG Chitnis.
On May 16, 2008, Aarushi was found murdered inside her bedroom in the Talwars’ flat in Noida’s posh Jal Vayu Vihar – her throat slit with surgical precision. The police initially suspected the missing house help from Nepal, Hemraj, but his decomposed body was found a day later from inside a locked room on the terrace of the building.
The police then began to suspect the Talwars and said Rajesh, the father, had murdered the two after finding them in an “objectionable” position. The case was later transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
“We are satisfied with the judgment and are greatly relieved. We believe justice has been done as the court has set aside the trial court’s order for the lack of sufficient evidence,” said defence counsel Dilip Kumar, who represented the Talwars.
The HC also pointed out “various shortcomings” in the lower court’s judgment, while ruling in favour of the defendants who had challenged the verdict.
Jail officials at Dasna said the couple were praying since the morning and burst into tears as soon as the judgment was announced.
“When we went to Rajesh, he hugged me and burst into tears. He said that justice has been delivered,” said DR Maurya, jail superintendent. He said the couple was likely to be released on Friday after the prison authorities received a copy of the court order.
Sources in the CBI said they would decide the next course of action after studying the verdict.
The high court verdict caps a series of twists and turns in the trial of a case that gripped the nation. Within weeks of the murder, the Uttar Pradesh police drew flak for doing a shoddy job and allegedly tampering evidence. Then chief minister Mayawati then handed over the case to the CBI.
Two CBI investigators reached differing conclusions on the basis of more or less the same evidence.
The first team led by Arun Kumar claimed a breakthrough on the basis of “scientific evidence”, primarily narco-analysis test reports, and arrested three men— Talwar’s compounder Krishna and two domestic helps working in the neighbourhood, Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal. But the agency eventually failed to build a case against them.
Another team probed the parents but it too failed to build a case, filing a closure report in 2009 that named Rajesh Talwar as the sole suspect based on circumstantial evidence but refused to charge him due to lack of evidence.
But a special CBI court rejected the federal agency’s claim that there was not enough evidence, and ordered proceedings against the Talwars.
In a 208-page order on November 25, 2013, CBI judge Judge Shyam Lal pronounced the Talwars guilty of both murders and destruction of evidence. That verdict was reversed on Thursday.
(with inputs from Prawesh Lama)