Aarushi Talwar murder, Noida, 2008
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
The case: In brief
The Times of India Jul 05 2015
Aarushi judge wrote `verdict' even before defence finished argument
The twists and turns of this 2008 Noida double-murder case had the nation riveted for years. Exclusive excerpts from `Aarushi', an investigative book by journalist Avirook Sen who covered the trial
The apparently simple finding that the motive of the crime had been established perhaps hid behind it the grossest perversion. To establish that Rajesh Talwar had killed Aarushi and Hemraj because he saw them having sex in her room, one had to first prove that Hemraj was there. The source of this `motive' was M.S. Dahiya's report with its flawed assumption that Hemraj's blood was found on Aarushi's pillow. Dahiya and Kaul (the forensic scientist and the investigating officer), had stubbornly insisted that in a forwarding letter written by an officer called Dhankar, three days after its recovery on 1 June 2008, the pillow cover was described as being found in Aarushi's room.
Tanveer Ahmed Mir had allowed Dahiya to stand by his report and not challenged it on its premise. The source of the pillow cover bearing Hemraj's blood was proved in court over a year ago: the exhibit was displayed and its original tag, signed by CBI officers, read out. It was found on Hemraj's bed, in the servant's room.Not in Aarushi's bedroom.
This was perhaps the most critical piece of evidence in the prosecution's case, the missing keystone. If Hemraj's pillow cover had indeed been found in Aarushi's room, the case against the Talwars was solid.But it wasn't.
Judge Shyam Lal had watched these dramatic events unfold in his courtroom keenly the previous summer. In his judgement, while evaluating the forensic report on the pillow cover, Judge Shyam Lal added this line: `. . . it becomes abundantly clear that Hemraj's DNA has been found on the pillow cover which was recovered from the room of Aarushi as per letter dated 04.06.2008 of SP CBI.
`The difficulty was finding a typist.Because, you know, in Ghaziabad all typists are for Hindi only. Only one or two stenos are there who can type the judgements in English. We had to make special arrangements. In fact I was the one who typed the beginning personally . First ten pages.' The judgement was 210 pages, and although much of it was cut and pasted off other judgements, I was interested in how long it took to write.Ashutosh Yadav, who was extremely happy to have made his own contributions to the document, unwittingly let a secret out: `It took more than one month,' he said.
`So you had gone to Ghaziabad more than a month before to help out...?' `Yes, I was there,' said Ashutosh.
I took this information in, and did my best to appear deadpan. Because the facts were these: Judge Shyam Lal pronounced his judgement on 25 November 2013. Tanveer Ahmed Mir, counsel for the defence, began his final arguments on 24 October.Over the next two weeks he would argue on a total of 24 circumstances that he felt should lead to acquittal.Seven of these were major points. As Judge Shyam Lal and his son sat down to write the judgement, Mir had not even begun.
The Talwars and Mir had their own stenographer related problems and would submit the arguments in writing only around 10 November.(Their typist was also a kabab seller who had got busy with his food business in the festive season.) At each hearing Judge Shyam Lal earing Judge Shyam Lal would urge Mir to do two things: wrap up quickly and submit the written argu ments. As Mir soldi ered on, neither he nor the Talwars would have known the fruit lessness of their exer cise. Ashutosh was right, the guilty ver dict was already being worked on. Shyam Lal after a brief while mumbled: `No, no . . . about a fortnight, not a month.' But by then, his son had given too many details away: his trip to Ghaziabad, that he typed out the first ten pages himself as they tried to make special arrangements for a typist, the requirement for `good words' which took time.
The key issues
The Times of India, Oct 01 2015
Abhinav Garg & Neeraj Chauhan
Trampled evidence & a botched murder probe
Convictions in court usually bring a sense of justice and closure, even for the most heinous of crimes. But two years after dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar was sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court for the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder, questions continue to be raised on whether justice was delivered. With the Irrfan Khan-starrer `Talvar', inspired by the rer `Talvar', inspired by the twin murder case, releasing in theatres this week, TOI looks at the twists and turns the case has taken so far, and asks: Are there more in the offing? On the night of May 15-16, 2008, Aarushi Talwar, barely eight days short of her 14th birthday , was found dead in her bedroom with her throat slit in Noida's Jalvayu Vihar neighbourhood. The main suspect was family domestic help Hemraj, who was missing early morning.
The first twist came the next day , when Hemraj's putrefying body was found on the terrace, turning the case into a frenzied media event.There were more questions than answers. Could the Talwars have slept through the killings, as they claimed? Who else could have done it and what was the motive? Where was the murder weapon? Despite obvious gaps in the evidence, the Noida police wasted little time in claiming that Dr Rajesh Talwar was the killer. In an infamous press conference, then Inspector General of Police (Meerut range) Gurdarshan Singh introduced the honour killing hypothesis, saying Talwar committed the crime in a fit of rage after finding Aarushi in an “objectionable though not a compromising position“ with Hemraj.
Singh's theory met with outrage and led to his eventual transfer, with the police being blamed for a shambolic investigation. His second claim -even more sensational -that Aarushi had opposed her father's alleged relationship with a doctor colleague -opened up a seamy chapter of orgies that the Talwars were whispered to be indulging in behind the façade of regular middle-class lives. These rumours, with no evidence whatsoever, turned the case in the public's imagination.
Then entered the CBI, India's premier investigating agency , called in by then UP chief minister Mayawati, in the face of non-stop media scrutiny into the workings of the Noida police. The bu reau put one of its brightest officers, joint director Arun Kumar, on the job. 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. Talwar was released on July 11, 2008.
Based on a string of tests conducted on the new suspects, Kumar's team put together a sequence of events: Krishna and Rajkumar, after a drinking session in Hemraj's room, tried to molest Aarushi and in the melee, killed the girl with a khukri.Hemraj, who threatened to wake up the Talwars, was taken to the terrace and killed.The theory had its own consequences. Soon, stories appeared in the media that the servants were being framed because they were easy meat.
The story took another turn with the retirement of CBI chief Vijay Shanker and appointment of his successor, Ashwani Kumar, in August 2008. According to one version, the new chief refused permission to make Vijay Mandal an approver.Unable to build on its initial claim, CBI decided that a chargesheet will not be filed and the trio was released.
The case grabbed headlines once more when in September 2009, it emerged that Aarushi's vaginal swabs had been allegedly tampered with while the pathology report went missing. Ashwani Kumar handed over the probe to a new team led by joint director Javed Ahmed and then additional SP A G L Kaul. This is when the story turned once again. Kaul reviewed case dairies, checked hospital records and put the needle of suspicion back on the Talwars. Another narco test was conducted on the couple in February 2010, which again failed to indicate guilt.
But the wheel had clearly turned. Kaul claimed in court that he wanted to chargesheet the Talwars but was denied permission from the CBI top brass who recommended closing the case. So, on December 29, 2010, CBI, under a new director A P Singh, sought to end the case by filing a closure report even though it presented circumstantial evidence against the Talwars, with statements of 84 witnesses, documents and forensic reports. The parents approached the court challenging the closure report and demanding that the agency re-investigate the crime.
It was now the CBI's turn to be left surprised. Special CBI judge Preeti Singh rejected the closure report and summoned both parents as accused for murder and destruction of evidence. The court treated the closure report as a chargesheet under the CrPC. During the 19 months of trial, the dentist couple maintained that CBI's probe was “tainted and tailored“. They said the agency's charges showed “deliberate lapses“ in investigations besides “noticeable non-mentioning of material pieces of evidence“.
On November 25, 2013, the special CBI court sentenced the couple to life imprisonment and sent them to Dasna jail. Their appeal is pending before the Allahabad HC.There's more to come in the Aarushi murder saga. But irrespective of the final outcome, the twin murders will go down as a classic case of botched up investigations.
The Times of India, Oct 03 2015
The Talwar conviction that doesn't convince Dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar are serving life sentence for the murder of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj. But the prosecution's case in the trial, which resulted in the convictions, was hardly flawless. Did the Talwars get just desserts for their crime or was there miscarriage of justice?
As the appeal against the verdict awaits hearing in the Allahabad high court, TOI puts together some of the infirmities and unanswered questions in the twin murder case that shook the nation.
Outsiders' entry ruled out?
The lynchpin of the prosecution's case was showing that the outer door to the Talwars' house was locked from inside, which meant that no one could have entered the apartment. It followed that if four people were in the house and two of them were dead, then the other two had to be the killers. To prove this, CBI relied substantially on the testimony of the maid, Bharti Mandal, who said in court that she had “touched“ the outer door while ringing the bell and it wouldn't open. In his book, Aarushi, journalist Avirook Sen writes that Shashi Devi, the laundrywoman who regularly visited the house, had earlier given a statement to the CBI that the door used to be jammed.
“If nobody came out after pressing the bell, I used to push the door open which used to remain jammed in the frame and I used to keep the clothes there,“ she had said. Shashi Devi was not called to testify in court.
On cross-examination in the court on her statement about the outer door, Bharti said, “Jo mujhey samjhaya gaya hai, wahi bayan main yahan de rahi hoon (I'm saying whatever was explained to me).“
Sen writes that earlier, in June 2008, Bharti's statement was recorded by CBI's Vijay Kumar in which she clearly said that only the middle mesh door was latched from outside (there were three doors leading to the Talwars' living room).
Hemraj's invisible presence
Both the murders were said to have taken place in Aarushi's room after Talwar allegedly found Hemraj in a compromising position with the teenager. But forensic experts could only find Aarushi's blood in the room. The prosecution argued that the crime scene had been dressed up and Hemraj's blood removed. How did the Talwars distinguish their daughter's blood from Hemraj's, especially since the pillow and bedsheet were soaked in blood and there were two distinct `impact splatters' -bloodstain patterns -left untouched on the wall? Not just blood, no fingerprints, DNA or semen traces, hair or any biological material belonging to Hemraj was found in the room despite scores of forensic samples being lifted.
Apart from maid Bharti Mandal, at least six key prosecution witnesses substantially added or changed their statements in court. Retired Noida cop K K Gautam had in 2008 told the CBI that he had found three depressions on the bed in Hemraj's room, suggesting that three persons had sat there. There were three glasses on the floor and the servants bathroom was dirty. He recanted in his later statement and added that he had been asked by Dinesh Talwar's friend Dr Sushil Choudhry to use his influence to get the word `rape' omitted from the postmortem report.
More crucial to the case were retrospective insights of Dr Sunil Dohre, the doctor who conducted Aarushi's postmortem. Sen, who had covered the trial, writes that Dohre made six changes to his report over three years. The original report had said “nothing abnormal detected“ in Aarushi's sexual organs.
Both he and Dr Naresh Raj (who conducted Hemraj's postmortem) were part of an AIIMS panel who deliberated over two months and submitted a report that said nothing abnormal was found in Aarushi's private parts. But a month later, Dohre told CBI that he had found Aarushi's vagina dilated. A year on, Dohre recorded a third statement in which he said the vagina was “prominently wide open“ and the hymen had an old rupture. Even the two sweepers who were present in the autopsy room and had given a statement at that time, later added bits about Aarushi's vagina.
Similarly, two years after his post mortem report, Dr Raj said that a surgical instrument may have been the murder weapon. Then there was constable Chunni Lal Gautam, whose testimony was heavily relied upon to prove that the crime scene was dressed up. Gautam too deviated substantially from his first statement on the crime scene.
Six crucial typos?
Among the case exhibits sent to CDFD, Hyderabad, was a pillow cover (exhibit Z-20) in which the forensic lab found traces of Hemraj's blood.The case files showed that the cover was seized from Krishna's room. This would have been a clinching piece of evidence which would have proven that Talwar's compounder Krishna had a hand in the crime. But CBI investigator Kaul claimed this was a typographical error and Hemraj's pillow had been labelled as Krishna's.
Kaul went a step further and wrote to CDFD suggesting that they had committed a typo. According to Sen, Kaul even made a trip to Hyderabad, which resulted in the lab writing back saying they had indeed committed an error. In the original report, exhibits were ordered in a way that item belonging to a person were serialised together. Krishna's pillow cover was described in the original report no less than six times, writes Sen.
Talvar, a movie based on the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case, is available on DVD and YouTube. It is produced by Junglee Pictures, a Times of India Group company.
The police investigation
How the police went wrong
Were Busy Preparing For PM's Visit To City
It was a classic case of evidence being trampled on, li terally. Noida police, busy pre paring for then PM Manmo han Singh's visit to meet an ai ling Harkishen Singh Surjeet of the CPM at a local hospital, did virtually everything that is banned in the rulebook, lea ding to a botched probe in the Aarushi murder case.
Lawyers and friends of the family recall how the crime sce ne was not cordoned off imme diately after the incident, and how the body of Hemraj, the Talwars' Nepali help, whom Aarushi's parents blamed for her murder in their FIR, was not found for one full day , be cause it was lying on the terra ce, and the terrace was locked.
Noida's SP at that time, Mahesh Mishra, had directed his policemen to break the lock on May 16 itself, but it didn't get done till KK Gau tam, a retired cop who was called to the spot by Rajesh Talwar's brother Dinesh, di rected the cops to break open the lock on May 17.
“When Noida police visi ted the crime scene, they were supposed to cordon off the area, but nothing like that was done,“ Manoj Sisodia who argued the case in the Ghaziabad trial court along with Satyaketu Singh told TOI. Media had a free run of the place, and in the process evidence got destroyed.
The police claimed they had solved the case very early and on May 23 -Aarushi's 14th birthday -held a press conference which was addressed by IGP (Meerut) Gurdarshan Singh. He brought up the honour killing angle for the first ti me, saying Rajesh Talwar killed his daughter when he saw her and Hemraj in an “objectionable but not compromising situation“, leading to outrage by Aarushi's family and sections of the civil society.
The then minister for women and child development, Renuka Chowdhury, took “strong objection to the lang uage“ used to describe the murder and said she had “reservations about Aarushi's character assassination“.
Following the outrage, then UP chief minister Mayawati transferred three cops, including the IGP (Meerut), DIG (Meerut) PC Meena and Gautam Budh Nagar SSP Satish Ganesh. Singh was later reinstated as the IGP (Meerut) in August 2008.
“Things got messed up in the very initial phase of the case,“ a senior cop who was posted in Noida before the transfers told TOI on condition of anonymity .
How the case was destroyed
Neelabh Banerjee November 26, 2013 This is how the case was destroyed | Oct 13 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)
TOI visited the crime site a day after the murders. A recap
The morning of May 17, 2008, was particularly hot when I visited the Aarushi crime scene, formerly known as the Talwars' residence, to recreate for TOI an axonometric infographic that would give readers an idea of the crime scene.
The house was easy to locate. TV broadcast vans lined the approach road like beacons, and crowds of onlookers eagerly pinpointed the spot. The courtyard and the stairs leading to the flat and its roof were both jampacked with curious neighbours and media people battling for space.
I pulled out my press card, ready to convince the cops that they should give me access to the murder scene. But to my surprise, the area had not been cordoned off. In fact, there weren't enough cops to stop the swelling horde from invading the house where the evidence was waiting to be picked up.
I went in quite unchallenged. The first thing I noticed was that the main door had a grille that was locked.One of the many people standing around told me in a conspiratorial tone that I should go to the roof.
“Bahut khoon pada hai chhat pe, he said. The stairs leading to the roof had traces of dried blood, obviously from the night before. The rush of people going up had stepped over them. I would have been very surprised had anyone, especially the police, not noticed them -they were that glaring.
The roof was a ghastly stage: there was blood everywhere. I remember seeing bloodied footprints and even a handprint on the wall. Whose could it have been? Hanging in the air was a mild stench of death.
A junked desert cooler kept there still had water in its tank. Horribly , that water was red, as if someone had washed hands in it after the killings. The adjoining roof was bare, except for a bloodied mattress and sheet -another crucial bit of evidence lying unattended.
After making my notes and sketches, I made my way back to our office thinking that it would be easy for the police to nab the killers. That was five years ago.
Allahabad HC’s view of the CBI court’s judgement
Oct 14 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi) CBI JUDGMENT CREATION OF FANCIFUL REASONING... - NEGLIGENCE AND SHODDY INVESTIGATION BY NOIDA POLICE
2017: Allahabad High Court judgement
HC acquits Aarushi's jailed parents
Nupur and Rajesh Talwar have been serving their sentence in Ghaziabad's Dasna jail.
NEW DELHI: The Allahabad High Court on Thursday acquitted Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in the murder of their teenage daughter Aarushi and their domestic help Hemraj in 2008, saying they could not be held guilty on the basis of the evidence on record.
The verdict ends a nine-year ordeal of the parents who were found guilty by a CBI court of murdering 14-year-old Aarushi. A division bench of the court comprising justices B K Narayana and A K Mishra upheld the appeals by the Talwars against the Ghaziabad CBI court order sentencing them to life imprisonment on November 26, 2013.
In pronouncing them 'not guilty', the high court overturned a 2013 trial court ruling that found the couple guilty of murdering their daughter and their domestic help.
The Allahabad HC essentially gave the Talwars the benefit of doubt+ .
On November 25, 2013, a special CBI court in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad found the Talwars guilty of murdering Aarushi and their domestic help Hemraj. They were sentenced to life in prison a day after the verdict. The Talwars are currently serving their life term in prison in Dasna jail in Ghaziabad.
In January 2014, the Talwars moved the Allahabad high court challenging the CBI court's conviction and sentence.
On the night of May 15-16, 2008, Aarushi, eight days short of her 14th birthday, was found dead in her bedroom, with her throat slit, in the Talwars' Jalvayu Vihar residence in the Delhi suburb of Noida.
At first, the main suspect was Hemraj, but two days later he, too, was found murdered and his body was recovered from the terrace of the house.
After a lot of criticism for reportedly shoddy investigation, the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mayawati, handed the case over to the CBI on June 1, 2008.
The CBI's handling of the case wasn't free of controversy either. Two separate CBI teams reached opposing conclusions. One claimed a breakthrough thanks to "scientific evidence", primarily narco-analysis test reports, and arrested three men - Rajesh Talwar's compounder Krishna and two domestic workers from the neighbourhood, Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal. The three men were let go after the CBI failed to chargesheet them.
Then, the CBI constituted a second team to investigate. This one was had to file a 'closure report' in court, as investigators said they didn't have enough evidence to charge anyone for the murders. The CBI special court rejected the 'closure report' and ordered the prosecution of the Talwars based on existing evidence.
After their prosecution, the Talwars were convicted of the murders by the CBI court. When they challenged the verdict in the Allahabad high court, they blamed the CBI for "shoddy investigation".
The verdict's highlights
The Allahabad High Court acquitted the Talwar couple in the 2008 murder case of their daughter Aarushi and their domestic help Hemraj, giving them the benefit of doubt.
Here are the key points of the judgement:
- The high court dismissed CBI court's order sentencing Talwar couple to life term for the double murder.
- The Allahabad HC said that the evidence against Aarushi's parents (Rajesh and Nupur Talwar) were circumstantial.
Allowing appeal by Talwars Allahabad HC was of view that as per circumstances & evidence on record they can't be held guilty #AarushiVerdict
- The court, while ordering their immediate release, also cited various shortcomings in the trial court's judgment while giving its verdict.
- The CBI failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Talwars murdered Aarushi and Hemraj, Times Now reported quoting the HC bench as saying.
- Soon after the verdict in Aarushi case, CBI said that it will study high court order and decide future course of action.
26 ‘proofs’ failed in HC
Twenty six pieces of circumstantial and material evidence cited by the trial court in convicting Rajesh and Nupur Talwar appear to have failed to pass muster with the Allahabad high court.
The internet router that remained intermittently on throughout the intervening night of May 15-16, 2008, formed an important piece of evidence for CBI judge Shyam Lal and was also under intense scrutiny in high court as the judges re-opened the hearing into the appeal after having reserved their order so that CBI could shed some more light.
The trial court had also gi ven a lot of weight to the last seen evidence by the driver of the Talwars who said he had on the night of May 15 last seen both accused together with Aarushi and Hemraj in the flat at 9.30 pm. Citing “close proximity between the point of time when the Talwars and the deceased were last seen and the crime on the intervening night of May 15 and 16, 2008“ the trial court had said the time period was small and no outsider could get a window of opportunity to commit the crime.
Similarly , maid Bharti's statement was considered crucial. She said when she came to clean the house in the morning, Nupur indicated that the door might have been locked from outside by Hemraj although it was neither locked, nor latched. When she reached the flat and spoke to Nupur, she didn't complain about the murder but said Hemraj might have gone to fetch milk.
The trial judge also relied upon medical reports indicating vaginal discharge from Aarushi's body and that Hemraj's private parts were also swollen. It said these showed that “she was engaged in sexual intercourse“, observing that Rajesh saw the victims together, killed them in a fit of rage and was helped by Nupur in destroying evidence.
The judge noted that Aarushi's room, where the murders were committed, had an automatic lock that could only have been opened by the parents with a key from outside or by Aarushi from inside.
The missing link of a murder weapon that had forced the CBI to file a closure report was solved by the trial court by concluding that golf club no. 5 was thrown into the loft after commission of the crime by Rajesh and the same was produced after many months by him.
The trial courtfound that the size of the frontal head of one golf club matched with the measurements of one injury each on Aarushi and Hemraj.“It is conclusively proved that lacerated wounds of both the deceased were caused by golf stick. The incised wounds of both the deceased are of same pattern and cannot be caused by khukri and rather possible to have been caused by a small sharp-edged instrument like scalpel,“ it held.
Theory of no outsider entry rejected
First CBI Team Had Arrested Two Domestic Helps And A Driver On Circumstantial Evidence
The theory of another killer -could be an outsider -being involved has found new life after the Allahabad high court on Thursday set aside the conviction of doctor couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in the 2008 murder of their daughter, Aarushi, and domestic help Hemraj.
Only a copy of the order will reveal the exact reasoning of the division bench, but what can be inferred from the acquittals is that the court discarded CBI's central theme that no one could have entered Talwars' house after the four were last seen together at 9.30 pm on the night of the murder by their driver.
The court found little me rit in this claim by which CBI cleverly put the onus of proof on the parents to explain how their child and servant were found murdered in the morning if they were all last seen alive the previous night. According to Evidence Act, in rare cases the burden of proof can be shifted to the accused from the prosecution and the agency had attempted to portray the murders as one such instance.
The high court was not convinced and stressed on the basic legal tenet that it is for the prosecution to give conclusive proof. It noted that the parents can't be held guilty just because they were present in the house when the murder took place and are entitled to “benefit of doubt“.
From all accounts HC seems to have questioned the CBI stand that no outsider could be involved and the trial court's acceptance of it. If one goes by the case record, there were only three other suspects when the CBI began probing the double murder. The first CBI probe team had identified Krishna Thadarai, a help at Talwar's clinic; his friend, Rajkumar, a domestic servant working with the friends of Talwars, Praful and Anita Durrani; and Vijay Mandal, driver of Talwars' neighbour as suspects and arrested them on the basis of circumstantial evidence that could link them to the crime. The agency went for rigorous narco analysis tests during which the ser vants admitted their presence in the flat on the fateful night and their alleged involvement in the murder. Since such tests are inadmissible as evidence unless backed by solid material evidence, including recovery of the murder weapon or fingerprints from the scene of crime, the agency couldn't chargesheet the three men, resulting in their discharge.
The special CBI court also accepted their alibi such as the claim of Krishna, who lived in the adjoining building, that he was found sleeping in his house at the time of the murder by his own family members.
But the high court seems to have disagreed with the CBI's assertion that the terrace door could not have been locked by anybody other than the Talwars in light of the possibility that the servants who lived in the same neigbourhood could have locked the door and taken away the key . Only a close rea ding of the court ruling may shed light on this aspect.
During the trial, Talwar's defence had tried to bring forward the role of the three servants saying the lie detector test, brain-mapping test and narco analysis tests at FSL, Banglore, had indicated that Krishna had revealed crucial information leading to the double murder. They cited an alleged voluntary disclosure statement by Krishna given to CBI, confessing that the murders had been carried out by a khukri.
But the judge had trashed this line of argument, saying it was not possible at all that at midnight Krishna, Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal would come to the room of Hemraj and have liquor, as alleged.The judge held that in absence of any possibility of an outsider entering the house, the servants could not be linked to the murder.
‘Maid's testimony made room for outsider angle’
CBI's case that Rajesh and Nupur Talwar had murdered their daughter and domestic help collapsed ironically on the testimony of an important witness the investigating agency had summoned to the trial, the maid Bharti Mandal. Her failure to convince Allahabad high court that on the morning after the murder she had found the murder site's outer door locked from inside proved pivotal in the dentist couple's acquittal. “The chain of circumstances snapped the moment the prosecution failed to prove by any cogent and reliable evidence that the Talwars' flat was locked from inside when Bharti Mandal rang the doorbell of their flat on the morning of 16.05.2008,“ Thursday's verdict highlighted. The court said the only other logical inference from that mo ment on was the possibility of an outsider's involvement.
CBI had examined Mandal to prove that the Talwars' flat was locked from inside when she arrived at the flat on May 16 morning, thus precluding the entry of an outsider into the house. But the court noted that on scanning her testimony before the trial court, it was constrained to observe that “she, in her entire statement, has nowhere stated that the outer-grille door was locked from inside or the same did not open, despite her trying to open it by pushing it“.
HC pointed out that the only thing Mandal had stated was that when she put her hand on the iron grille door it didn't open, which did not conclusively prove that it was locked from inside. This fact demolished CBI's contention that the locked house proved the inmates had committed the murder. HC also accepted the defence lawyers allegation that Mandal was coached by CBI, a fact she later admitted.
Intercourse theory rebutted
- Doctors who floated the sexual intercourse theory did it on questionable premises coloured with subjectivity, the HC found.
- Dr Naresh Raj, who conducted the autopsy of Hemraj, concluded that the dead man's swollen penis proved he had sex before being killed.
A medical expert who insisted sexual intercourse between Aarushi and Hemraj was the motive for their murder cited his "marital experience" as the reason for his claim.
Dr Naresh Raj, who conducted the autopsy of Hemraj, concluded that the dead man's swollen penis proved he had sex before being killed. When an incredulous Allahabad high court bench examined his testimony to find out why he gave such an opinion, it found he had stated "on the basis of my marital experience I have stated that the reason for the swelling in Hemraj penis was that either he was in the midst of sexual intercourse or was about to indulge in the same."
Dr Sunil Dohre, who had conducted the postmortem of Aarushi, told the trial court that her vaginal cavity contained a white colour discharge suggesting sexual assault. The bench pointed out that Dohre didn't give "even a faint indication" of sexual intercourse either in the postmortem report or in his next three statements to the prosecution. It was in his fourth statement given in court that he made the claim which formed the basis for CBI's allegation attributing a motive to the parents — that Aarushi and Hemraj were caught in the midst of sexual intercourse. Such "material improvements were a matter of subjective findings which have no place in forensic science," observed the court.
The testimony of Dr Mohinder Singh Dahiya, a forensic doctor who investigated the crime scene but believed an investigator's claim to record in his official report that Hemraj's blood was found on the pillow in Aarushi's bedroom, strengthening the sexual intercourse theory, also came under scrutiny.
The court found that CFSL had after forensic tests detected blood and DNA of Aarushi alone on the bedsheet, pillow along with cover and part of mattresses. Dr B K Mahapatra, DNA expert, and Suresh Kumar Singla, serologist, confirmed this in court.
It was left to gynaecologist Dr Urmila Sharma to rebut the testimonies of the three doctors. Dr Sharma testified that presence of the white colour discharge was normal as this starts in every girl between 13 and 14 years of age when hormonal changes start taking place in the ovary after the beginning of a menstrual cycle.
She explained that the vaginal orifice is open only in those women who have given birth to several children when Dr Dohre had claimed that Aarushi's vaginal cavity was prominently open and the cervix and entire vaginal canal was visible when he conducted an external examination. The swelling of Hemraj's penis was attributed to his body lying on the terrace for more than 24 hours in heat.
HC exposes the CBI's lie
You've seen the headlines and heard the talking heads already: 'No one killed Aarushi'; 'If the Talwars didn't do it, who did?' and the philosophical, 'We are no closer to the truth'.
Well, here is some news: we are closer than you think. And it's there in Thursday's Allahabad High Court judgment. Just turn to page 227 and begin reading — and do turn the television down.
This is the story of how the most crucial piece of evidence in the Aarushi-Hemraj murders was tampered with by the CBI. Had the agency not done this, and then covered it up, the Talwars would never even have had to go to trial. What makes it worse is that this wasn't some kind of circumstance, or testimony, it was a piece of physical evidence, forensically examined.
The article in question is a purple-coloured pillow cover. It belonged to Krishna, the Talwars' compounder, who was also Hemraj's friend. It was seized by the CBI in the second week of June 2008 from Krishna's room and appeared to have suspicious blood spots on it. When it was examined by the good scientists at Hyderabad's CDFD laboratory, they confirmed that the blood belonged to Hemraj.
Let's pause here. Hemraj lived in L-32 Jalvayu Vihar, the Talwars' flat. Krishna, in the servants' quarters at L-14 in the same complex. So how did Hemraj's blood travel to Krishna's room? That is the question the CBI needed to answer. But it was an inconvenient truth. The agency had no physical evidence linking the Talwars to the murders, just a perverse fantasy they were struggling to support.
All the while they had been sitting on forensic proof that Krishna may have been involved. The forensic report came in November 2008, but the CBI realised only after it was well invested in proving the Talwars' guilt that it contained this information.
In fact, it was Dinesh Talwar, Rajesh's brother, who made the discovery while scouring the CBI's documents late one night in Allahabad in early 2011. In a line, the report pointed to two things: the Talwars' innocence and someone else's involvement. It was the answer to the question that has dogged the Talwars for nearly a decade: 'If you didn't do it, who did?'
Led by the late AGL Kaul, the case's investigating officer, the CBI then embarked upon what can only be termed as a criminal journey. In collusion with the CDFD, it invented a reason for the presence of Hemraj's blood on Krishna's pillow cover: it wasn't there in the first place, said the CBI. A typographical error led to the confusion.
Thereafter, there was a flurry of activity. Kaul's team ripped open the CDFD seals, took out the exhibits, and photographed them, placing handwritten false exhibit numbers in the frame.
Kaul then wrote a letter to the CDFD saying there "appeared to be a typographical error" in its report. He helpfully told them exactly where the error was. He also flew down to Hyderabad. The lab wrote back promptly: yes indeed, there was a typo, as Kaul had pointed out. The division bench of the Allahabad High court dissects and exposes this elaborate lie. Surgically. Relying on the CBI's own witnesses, CDFD scientist SPR Prasad and investigating officer AGL Kaul, the court says the following:
- 'We have very carefully scanned the evidence of SPR Prasad and AGL Kaul but there is nothing in their evidence which may show as to how the error had crept in, when and how the error took place.'
- 'Moreover the discovery of the alleged typographical error... by AGL Kaul more than three years after its submission and issuance of clarificatory letter of the CDFD Hyderabad, thereafter on 24.3.2011 promptly, pursuant to the letter dated 17.3.2011 given by the investigating agency to CDFD Hyderabad which in itself was clearly "suggestive" in nature as it was virtually suggested by the said letter of the Investigating Officer that there was a typographical error. [The letter] appears to be manipulated. It is very strange that although AGL Kaul has testified that when he took over the investigation of the case he had noticed that error in the most controversial exhibits...he took no steps or sought any rectification.'
- '...experts sat down together and prepared the final report and as such there was no possibility of any error...having crept in.'
'The prosecution has further failed to come up with any explanation to prove that no tampering with the most material exhibits of the case had taken place.'
It was not the burden of this court to tell us who killed Aarushi and Hemraj. But in exposing the CBI's lie it has pointed us to who it might have been.
The three suspects who the agency didn't pursue after initial attempts are on the loose. Krishna's family is in Nepal, but he may well be employed in India. Rajkumar, last I found out, runs a beauty parlour in Kathmandu. Vijay Mandal's whereabouts are uncertain.
Perhaps the CBI knew all along who killed Aarushi. They just chose not to tell us. It's time to ask why.
Avirook Sen is the author of 'Aarushi'