The butler didn’t do it. Matter of fact, the butler was also done away with. So, by process of elimination, those who remained did it: in this case, the parents. After more than five years of struggling with lack of “clear and clinching” evidence, an overzealous media and a family — that is even now trying to come to terms with their daughter’s murder — the CBI has finally “solved” India’s most famous whodunit: the Aarushi Talwar-Hemraj double murder. In a 210-page judgment, on 26 November, a CBI court in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, concluded that Dr Rajesh Talwar and his wife Dr Nupur Talwar were guilty of killing their 14-year-old daughter Aarushi and 45-year-old domestic help Yam Prasad Banjade alias Hemraj and sentenced them to life imprisonment under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The court further ruled that the couple would have to serve a concurrent term of five years imprisonment each for concealing and destruction of evidence and another year was handed to Rajesh for filing a false FIR.
As it were, the court’s verdict was on expected lines; the lynch mob had already made up its mind. The media, playing to the gallery, had done its bit in the deliverance of “justice”. In more ways than one, everyone had played Sherlock Holmes. Armchair detectives thrashed out the case on the Internet and the electronic media, doling out theories of how the murders had been committed.
Justice is as much about protecting the innocent as punishing the guilty, but the trial in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case seemed determined to go for conviction even when the prosecution could not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, says professor Shohini Ghosh in an interview to Nupur Sonar
Edited Excerpts from an interview
What is your reaction to the verdict on the Arushi-Hemraj murder case and the way in which the verdict was arrived at despite evidence to the contrary?
This verdict will go down in legal history as a dark chapter. It has been a grievous miscarriage of justice. It has bought into an absurd and fabricated narrative that the prosecution came up with. It has not bothered to challenge the many loopholes in the prosecution story or paid attention to the legitimate questions raised by the defence counsel. The Talwars were not allowed to present their witnesses or evidence that could turn the tide of the case. It should have looked into the most important evidence in the case — the pillowcase with Hemraj’s blood and DNA that was recovered from Krishna’s room. It should have asked why the bloodstained khukri was not sent for advanced DNA testing. It should have allowed the 14 defence witnesses to testify. The trial was mystifyingly one-sided. Justice is as much about protecting the innocent as punishing the guilty, but this trial seemed determined to go for conviction even when the prosecution could not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
It would appear from the language of the verdict — calling the Talwars freaks — that the judgment has emerged not out of the merits of the case but the slander and prejudice that surrounded it. The judiciary is one of the most important pillars of a democracy and we expect it to uphold the highest standards. I’m hoping that the Allahabad High Court will study the merits of the case and uphold the majesty of the law.
Facts you didn’t know about the sensational Aarushi-Hemraj Murder Trial
More than five years after the double murder and flip-flops in investigation, dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were today held guilty of killing their 14-year-old daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj in their house in Noida.
In a case that has had a number of twists and turns, Additional Sessions Judge Shyam Lal held both of them also guilty of destruction of evidence in the murder on the intervening night of May 15 and 16, 2008, days before the birthday of the class nine student.
The father was also convicted under section 203 of IPC for filing wrong information with the Noida police station about the incident.
After two adjournments since morning, the judge, who is to lay down office this month end, arrived in the high- security court room at 3.25 PM and summoned both the accused.
He read out the operative portion from his order that both the parents have been convicted for murder and destruction of evidence and on the charge of committing an act in furtherance of common intention.
49-year-old Rajesh was also convicted on the charge of filing false FIR. Nupur is a year younger than her husband.
Arguments on sentencing will be held tomorrow after which the judge will announce quantum of sentence.
The Talwar couple, who were well known dentists of Noida, broke into tears as they were taken into custody and were being taken to jail.
Immediately after the verdict was announced, a statement was circulated on behalf of the Talwar couple which read “we are deeply disappointed, hurt and anguished for being for being convicted for a crime that we have not committed. We refuse to feel defeated and will continue to fight for justice.”
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