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.
Pronouncing the verdict in a packed court room, the bench said that it is a fit case where benefit of doubt can be given to the appellants and set aside the judgement of the CBI court convicting the Talwars.
Talwars’ lawyer Rebecca John said the evidence presented by the CBI “did not stand judicial scrutiny and that is the end of it”.
Pinaki Misra, another defence counsel, said the CBI court judgment was “absolutely perverse and the High Court has set it aside correctly”.
Earlier, on September 7, the high court had reserved its judgement in the case, which shook the conscience of the nation and saw several twists and turns.
Reacting to the verdict, the CBI said it would study the high court order and decide the future course of action.
Jailor of the Gaziabad’s Dasna prison Dadhiram Maurya said the Talwars felt they have got justice and were praying.
“After having breakfast they were praying. Their schedule was normal. She (Nupur Talwar) said they got justice today and had tears of joy.
“Any person after spending this amount of jail will feel happy to get freedom. So they were happy after they were told about the news,” he said.
Lawyer Rebecca John, who was part of Talwars’ legal team, said she was relieved by the judgement. She claimed the whole case was based on “innuendos” and would “not have carried through”.
John, who is a family friend of the couple, hoped that the Talwars, who have been in media spotlight for over nine years, will be allowed privacy after their release from the jail.
Jail sources said the couple were likely to walk free on Friday.
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 murders of Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj gripped the imagination of the nation, indeed several other parts of the world. The interest even resulted in the critically acclaimed film, Talvar , which was distributed by Junglee Pictures and produced by Vineet Jain and Vishal Bhardwaj. The film was directed by Meghna Gulzar.
(With inputs from agencies)