The Allahabad High Court on Thursday acquitted Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in connection with the double murder of their daughter Aarushi Talwar and their domestic help Hemraj in 2008. The High Court upheld the appeal of Talwars against a special CBI ruling that convicted them and sentenced the couple to life imprisonment.
A two-member division bench of the of the court comprising justices B K Narayana and A K Mishra acquitted the dentist couple giving them ‘benefit of doubt’ and added that as per the circumstances and the evidence on record they cannot be held guilty.
Nupur and Rajesh Talwar who have been serving their sentence in Ghaziabad’s Dasna jail reportedly had tears of joy after the verdict was out. “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,” Dadhiram Maurya, jailor of the Dasna prison said, adding that Talwars felt that they have got justice. Meanwhile, here are the reactions of friends, family and all those involved with the case.
“Deeply grateful to God. It has been a tiring and exhausting long 10 years journey. I am grateful to Allahabad HC for acquitting Rajesh and Nupur. I would also like to extended thanks to reporters, lawyers and people who have supported us through the journey. Finally my family can lead a dignified life. The court has upheld the facts and truth,” Vandana Talwar, Aarushi’s aunt said in an interaction with media.
BG Chitnis, Nupur’s father and a former Group Captain in the Indian Air Force said, “I am grateful to judiciary. I have seen them suffering all these years. It has been really testing. They are emotionally drained. At my age it was very trying to see my daughter behind bars.”
Former CBI chief A P Singh said, “The Allahabad High Court has, I believe, given them benefit of doubt which is precisely what we had said in our closure report. There was insufficient evidence to prosecute the Talwars hence we had filed the closure report. The investigation was almost complete when I took over and I had to take a decision whether to file a charge sheet or a closure report.” He also added, “Only weakness we found was that scene of crime had been badly tampered on the first day itself. As a result, after that we got nothing of value from the scene of crime. That was the major lacuna in the entire investigation.”
Rebecca John, senior lawyer, who was a part of Talwars’ legal team hailed the judgement. “The fact is that the entire case was based on innuendos and assumptions. There was no credible evidence against the couple. The CBI conducted it in a manner which is not becoming of a probe agency.” She also hoped that the couple who have been in the eye of a “media storm” for nearly a decade will be allowed privacy after their release from jail.
ADG BSF Arun Kumar who headed the CBI team into the murder case, called for a review of criminal justice system after the verdict was announced. The CBI team under Kumar had concluded that Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj were murdered by Krishna Thadarai- help at Talwar’s clinic, his friend Rajkumar– a domestic servant with Praful and Anita Durrani who were Talwars’ friends, and Vijay Mandal, driver of Talwars’ neighbour. The findings however were trashed for inconclusive evidence. “It is a well-discussed case. Subject to the confirmation of the court (about Talwar couple being innocent), think of the family and what has happened to them. Let us review our criminal justice system,” Arun Kumar said.
“We have restored honour to the teenager and the help and established Aarushi’s parents were not guilty. The four were subject to intense character assassination, especially by the media. We argued and established that there was a possibility of outsiders having entered the house and committing the crimes, unlike the prosecution’s hypothesis that the parents were the only two other people in the house that was locked from the inside,” Talwars’ counsel Tanveer Mir said to The Indian Express.
D Singh, one of the neigbours of Talwars’ near their residence Sector 25 said expressed apprehensions about the killer of Aarushi and Hemraj. “If not the Talwars, then who killed Arushi? However, we are happy that they have been acquitted.”
At the Parsvnath Mall at Sector 27, where Talwars had their dental clinic, a shopkeeper named Harkesh felt that justice has triumphed. “They have suffered too much due to their daughter’s murder. With the acquittal by the high court, they have got justice.”
Indian Medical Association president Dr K K Aggarwal said, “The Talwars got justice.” A representative of the Association of Medical Clinics of Noida, Dr K C Sood, expressed happiness that the couple was given the benefit of doubt. “Unless there is conclusive evidence one should not be punished. However, now it will remain a mystery. It has cast aspersions on CBI investigations,” he said.
Masuma, a family friend of Talwars said that the parents were not even able to grieve for their child, “the centre of their universe”, and that it would be difficult for them to return to a life of normalcy. She also raised doubts on who committed the murder.
Arpana, who claimed to have been working as a domestic help in houses located in L Block for nearly two decades, emphasised that she has not forgotten anything about the incident. “There was a sense of shock among the locals when they came to know about the double murder in their neighbourhood,” she said, claiming that she worked in the Talwar house for some time as well.
Radhika Chadda, a friend of the Talwars, said the couple has been holding together very well because they are “innocent and have faith in the truth”. “I have been in touch with them over the years and their belief in the legal system kept them going. They maintained sanity by practising dentistry that they are so skilled at. “They have been operating a clinic from the jail, which I believe, is the best clinic in the entire Ghaziabad district,” she said.
However, few Nepalese domestic helps were visibly unhappy with the verdict. “The rich can get themselves acquitted. In the Nithari case too, (Moninder Singh) Pandher was acquitted. The poor cannot expect justice,” said one. Another said, “Hemraj’s relatives should challenge the acquittal at the Supreme Court.”
(With inputs from agencies)