Family members under money laundering act

In this article, Akancha of BVP Pune does a case analysis on the infamous Aarushi Murder case, Dr. (Smt.) Nupur Talwar vs State Of U.P. And Anr.

The suspect changes continuously! The police suddenly become of no use! CBI changes its team without giving any reason! The court convicts the parents! The court evicts the parents!

A chain of contradictory and questionable events that took place due to the dereliction in the initial investigation and the dubious methods used for confession, which led to critical gaps in the evidence resulting in the release of the prime suspects and closing of the case with many questions unanswered and breaking down of the entire concept of justice.

Timeline of events

May 16, 2008 – Aarushi Talwar found dead in her bedroom. Hemraj (servant of Talwar’s) is absent from the apartment and suspected to be the murdered by the parents.

May 17, 2008 – Hemraj body found on the Talwar’s terrace with a bloody handprint on the wall.

Postmortem Report

According to the report, both Aarushi and Hemraj were killed between 12 A.M. to 1A.M. Both of them were killed in the same manner and the blunt object that caused U-V curve and was used to kill them could possibly be a golf stick.

Aarushi’s Postmortem Report- She had a blunt injury on the forehead (8 cm*2 cm) and that was made with a “heavy sharp-edged weapon”, a cut on her neck (14 cm*6 cm) and such injury were made with surgical precision.

Hemraj Postmortem report- The blunt injury was made on the back of Hemraj head and the neck injury was same as that of Aarushi.

The object used for both the murders was the same and the victims died in 2 minutes as soon as the object hit them.

Investigation

First stage – U.P. Police Investigation

After seeing the postmortem report the police concluded that the double murders were an insider job and were done with someone who had clinical precision. On May 19, 2008, Vishnu Sharma, the former domestic helper was suspected of killing them due to the rage of getting replaced by Hemraj. But police could find nothing on examining him.

The second stage – Joining of Delhi Police

On 21st May 2008 the Delhi police joined the investigation and suspected Rajesh and Nupur Talwar for murders. Main reasons for such suspicions were-

  • The denial of Aarushi’s parents about hearing any sound even though they were just 7-8 feet away from her room.
  • The offer of Rs 25000 made by Rajesh to find Hemraj was seen as a diversionary tactic,
  • The denial of Rajesh to identify Hemraj body was seen as an attempt to mislead the police.
  • The undue haste shown by the family in cleaning and cremating the body was a matter of suspicion of the police.
  • The request made by Dinesh to remove any sexual assault information from the post-mortem report was objected by the police.

They created an extramarital affair theory between Rajesh Talwar and Anita(Talwar’s friend). Aarushi knew this fact and had confided with Hemraj. According to them Rajesh finding Aarushi and Hemraj in an objectionable position that night could not control his anger and committed the double murder. The extramarital affair of Anita and Rajesh was confirmed by Anmol, a close friend of Aarushi who was told this fact by Aarushi. On May 23, 2008, Rajesh Talwar was arrested as the key suspect.
Being criticised for questioning the character of Aarushi he changed his storyline to Aarushi being the witness of Hemraj murder was killed by her father. However, police had no material or forensic evidence to prove it. This clearly shows that police had invariably failed in investigating the case and formed a storyline which suited them.

Third stage – Investigation by the first C.B.I. team (2008-09)

On 1st June 2008 at the request of Aarushi’s parents, the case was transferred to CBI.
The first CBI suspected Krishna (Driver of Talwar’s), Rajkumar(Ex- servant of Talwar’s), and Vijay(Talwar’s compounder) and arrested Krishna on June 13, 2008. A number of narco tests were taken on them but they were not conclusive as every time a different version of the day was given- With an intention of taking revenge and finding Aarushi’s door open he killed her and since Hemraj was a witness to such murder he killed him on the terrace and destroyed their cell phones and flushed the murder weapon. However, no charge sheet could be filed against them as it was proved that they were not present at the time of the murder and narco tests could not be relied upon by the court as well as the blood-stained ‘khurki’ and pillow cover found from Krishna’s room had the blood of an animal in it.On June 26, 2008, the CBI declared it a ‘blind case’ but bail was denied by the court on the same and new team was appointed for investigation. This again showed a complete failure of the police in the examination of the witnesses.

Fourth stage – Investigation by the New CBI team (2009-10)

In July 2008 due to media pressure on the failure of CBI to investigate a new CBI team was formed to investigate the crime and they alleged that the victims were murdered by Nupur and Rajesh Talwar on the following grounds.

  • No forced entry- The CBI claimed that there was a friendly entry as there was no sign of breaking of any door or window. Since there were only four people in the house and two were killed the onus to prove lied on the parents.
  • Room locked by parents- Since Aarushi’s room was locked by parents and they had the keys. They had to prove if anyone else entered the room and the way of entry.
  • Altering the crime scene- The blood could be found on the floor, pillow, wall and even at the entrance of the bedroom but the toys, pillow on the back of the bed, the book and school bag which should come under the ambit of blood spill were clean which shows that they had been cleaned. Moreover, the bed sheet was laid out smoothly as if the body was kept on the bed sheet after the murder.
    CBI also claimed that the private parts of Aarushi cleaned after her death.
    The two golf clubs were cleaned so much that they were visually distinct from other golf clubs.
  • They supported the love theory formed by the police.

On 9th February 2011, the Ghaziabad special CBI court convicted the parents of murder on the basis of circumstantial evidence and media pressure which was a complete miscarriage of justice. After a lot of waits the Allahabad High Court on October 2, 2017, acquitted them on basis of weak evidence and provided relief to those poor parents.

Questions of law involved

The special court of CBI while conducting the trial under Section 45 of the Indian Evidence act did not admit narco tests of the servants as an admissible evidence. Moreover, the court under Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act admitted maid’s statement that Nupur Talwar had told her a made up story and the murder was pre planned.

The court under Section 106 and 114 of the evidence act presumed the existence of certain facts against the parents and did not consider any other evidence presented by the accused. The court gave one sided judgment and convicted Talwars U/S 302 r/w Section 34 for murdering her daughter and section 201 r/w Section 34 for tampering with the evidences.

The Allahabad High Court corrected the error made by the trial court in an application of law and highlighted that Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act did not absolve the prosecution from proving case beyond reasonable doubt under Section 110 of the act. The court pointed out that Section 106 did not intend to shift burden of proof to the accused but could only be used when certain facts were difficult to be proved by the prosecution.

This section could only be applied if CBI would have proved the case beyond reasonable doubts. Moreover, the prosecution (CBI) in this case had failed to establish the case beyond reasonable doubts. Hence the benefit of doubt should be given to the Talwars and they were acquitted.

The question on the justice system

Even though the Talwars presented sufficient evidence before the special CBI court to prove that they were not guilty the court on the basis of circumstantial evidence and media pressure convicted them. The faults made by the police in the investigation procedure which raises question on the justice system are-

  • The police after coming to the house did not show due diligence and did not record the evidence carefully. The crime scene was open to all and people and media were walking everywhere by which most of the evidence either got tampered or destroyed.
  • Despite regular request to use the Touch DNA system they did not use it and could not recognize the handprint near Hemraj body which was one of the main evidence. Moreover, the murder weapon could not be found.
  • The double bedsheet used to separate the terrace had a shoe print in it which was of 8 or 9 number. They failed to recognize the person in the shoe print.
  • The mouth of Hemraj had hairs in it. It was pointed out by the Talwar’s lawyer but the police ignored it.
  • The investigators were unable to determine the person who called Hemraj at 8.27 P.M from the PCO located a kilometre away from Talwar’s apartment.
  • The fingerprints present on the whiskey bottle could not be identified.

Moreover, many facts were left unturned and many questions that arose during the investigation were not answered by the police. Some questions that were left unanswered were-

The unanswered questions

  • If Talwar’s were responsible for their daughter’s murder why would they ask for CBI investigation?
  • If CBI alleged that the evidence was tampered by the Talwars then why didn’t the Talwars remove the bottle and glass of whiskey that had blood and fingerprints on it or why didn’t they clean the same?
  • Why was the CBI team changed when it was about to file a charge sheet and its cause not revealed in public?
  • Why didn’t the old CBI team did not show the report of investigation of the three suspects- Krishna, Vishnu, and Rajkumar?
  • Why was the closure report filed by CBI different from the postmortem report as the closure report stated that the injury caused to Aarushi was on the back of her head while postmortem stated in the front?
  • Even after the regular request of the Talwars why want the touch DNA test performed?
  • Why did CBI ignore its own sound tests which showed that Talwars did not hear any noise due to the air conditioner?

The crucial questions that the police did not pay any heed to as well as the faulty investigation that it took raises an eyebrow on the justice system and is a shame for the country.

Role of Media Trial in the case

Media played both positive and negative role in this case. It cannot be denied that the unblinking glaze of media was one of the major reasons in pointing out the faulty investigation by the police and this led to CBI involvement and high profile investigation in the case else the case would have been closed and put on the dusty shelves of the police station. The Supreme court heavily criticised the role of media and said that media scaled new heights of responsibility which caused irreparable damage to the innocent parents who lost their only child. Due to the continuous faulty theories, formed just to gain TRP lad people to believe that the parents were the killer of their only child even though there was no witness to testify that.

The love angle taken out by media between Aarushi and Hemraj completely destroyed the character of that small girl. Even before the investigation Inspector General of Police, Meerut in a press conference declared the girl as characterless and concluded that the father in sudden and grave provocation killed the daughter. Although the Inspector General was charged with the defamatory statement, this story was spiced up by and the confused nation settled on this baffling story which completely destroyed the image of the innocent girl and her parents.

Various news telecasts authoritatively claimed the love angle theory to be true. In every article, conference and talk show the parents were portrayed as immoral and unfeeling. This led people to believe in this theory to such an extent that they thought that the case was filed just for convicting the parents and not for investigation. All this took away the right of a fair trial from those innocent parents and in turn led to the conviction of the innocents.

Author’s Opinion

Alleging anyone of them involved in this case, in my opinion, would be an injustice to them as the case even after so many years of investigation and trial gives a blurry view of the criminal. The complexity of the case arose due to the continuous failure of the police as well as CBI to record evidence as well as loopholes in the Indian legal system which prevented them from carrying on the investigation.

With the growth of society and increasing complexity of crimes, it is necessary that the technological inventions should be utilized to its fullest. There has always been unanimity on the point that medical and forensic evidence help the court of law to come to logical conclusions. Involving more and more medical experts in the investigation for delivery of justice is the need of the hour. Although the courts have not considered narco analysis as a reliable source its necessity cannot be neglected in the present situation. There is an urgent need to legalize this test by making new and separate laws governing the extent and mode of such analysis.

The case also pointed out an important issue of media trial. The separate investigation carried out by media plays an important role in shaping the case and thus has to be fair and unbiased. However, media needs to maintain a balance between the investigation and privacy rights of an individual. The Supreme Court highly criticized the violation of the right to privacy by media trials in Aarushi’s case. Ergo, the case cleared many loopholes and problems in the legal system that need to be corrected for speedy and fair trial so that injustice is not done to any other person as done in this case.

[1] Pallavi Polanki (2 October 2012). \”Aarushi- Hemraj trial: more holes in prosecution\’s case\”. Firstpost.

[2]https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/01/26/aarushi_talwar_murder_a_look_at_one_of_indias_most_notorious_cases.html

[3] \”Talwars were nervous: Cop\”. The Times of India. 31 January 2013.

[4] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Attack-showed-clinical-precision-and-planning/articleshow/3067643.cms?referral=P.M

[5] supra 4

[6] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Aarushi-Talwar-murder-case-Necks-slit-just-before-death/articleshow/15133398.cms?referral=P.M

[7] http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jun/26aarushi.htm

[8] http://www.firstpost.com/delhi/aarushi-murder-the-curious-case-of-the-missing-golf-club-2-187125.html

[9] http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/noida-double-murder-rajesh-killed- Hemraj-hit-aarushi-unintentionally-says-cbi/1106834/

[10]https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/01/26/aarushi_talwar_murder_a_look_at_one_of_indias_most_notorious_cases.html

[11] http://indianexpress.com/article/india/nine-years-on-many-unanswered-questions-in-aarushi-Talwar- Hemraj-murder-case-allahabad-hc-verdict-4886372/

[12]https://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=8891271191170830710650980741140991040360090580070260370051231200090200950730880190870181230401040491230080151040260020940881090010080880380130911

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