Saturday, October 14, 2017

Aarushi Talwar double murder mystery

Recently the parents of Aarushi have been acquitted by the high court of UP for the lack of evidence, giving them the benefit of doubt in the double murder of their daughter Aarushi and servant Hemraj.

It will surely remain as one of the most mysterious murder cases of all times. The very first investigation was done by the local police. They arrested the father. Then CBI stepped in. The first CBI team gave clean chit to the parents but suspected the 3 friends of the murdered servant of having molested the girl and killed the servant who objected to it. However due to lack of firm evidence they were not charged.

Then there was a change in the leadership of CBI. A new team was formed. That team once again suspected the parents of killing their daughter and servant. Termed it as honor killing. However, the second CBI team also stated that they did not have enough evidence to bring charges against  Talwars, the parents. A closure report was submitted to the court. The parents were free but they were not satisfied with the probe. They wanted the real killers found out. They petitioned in the court against the closure report and ending the probe. I don't know what to call it but the particular judge who heard their petition took a very unpredictable and surprising decision - the closure report has enough evidence to charge the parents. Charge them and hold the trial!!!! Very strange decision to say the least!

Now the parents were charged. A moment ago they were free and now charged of having committed double murder! And one victim is the only daughter of the couple!! Go figure!

The lower court convicted them based on the charge-sheet which was based on the closure report of all things for God's sake! It is hard to understand how the lower court found enough evidence to establish, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the parents are GUILTY!!! Must be one of the rarest cases. The investigating agency itself had said they did not have enough evidence to charge in the first place but the judge indeed found them guilty as charged and sentenced them for life term in jail.

Finally after 4 years, the high court has acquitted them for lack of evidence. Hopefully justice is done. CBI can always go to supreme court, who knows! They may not because they did not want the case tried in the first place.

If you read the several books and watch a couple of movies that have appeared on the subject, you get all the details. As different investigative groups have felt, sometimes parents indeed look responsible for the double murder. Sometimes the acquaintances of the servant do indeed look responsible. But, the point, according to seasoned investigators, was the evidence was not adequate to establish one or the other as guilty beyond reasonable doubt. That's the crux. We might be very strongly drawn to judge someone guilty based on certain facts but such judgement is considered biased and not complete.

It took 9 years to come to this conclusion. The parents were arrested, released, arrested again and finally sent to jail since 2013 till now. Effectively nine years of their life have been wasted. Losing the only child and its pain, that you can't quantify. Defending themselves must have made them take huge debts. Some of the very senior lawyers charge tens of lakhs of rupees per appearance.

Once again some people have very correctly raised the point of needing to start to clean up the ancient and arcane Indian criminal justice system which is a remnant from the days of the British Raj. As some eminent legal personality had pointed out, British criminal system in India and other colonies was put in place to suppress the natives. It was not there to dispense justice. Just the opposite. It was there to persecute the natives. We have been following the same cruel system even after 70 years of independence from those evil people. Go and see in Britain how fine is their justice system. Very very rarely their citizens are mistreated or dealt a raw deal. The justice is delivered very quickly. That's the most important thing. If this or any case ends, say in 1-2 years at the max, no complaints. One has to accept that much time and inconvenience as part of living in a society. But 9 years? Not acceptable by any standards.

And another point is about granting bail. In other civilized countries, bail is granted almost by default. Bail is the norm and detaining without bail is an exception. But in India it's exactly the opposite. In very rare cases the accused is in a position to hamper investigation and influence witnesses. But, the old criminal justice system believes in locking up the accused without bail for a long time. So, by the time case comes for trial, the accused would have already served good amount of time regardless of guilty or not. The process of requesting and granting bail is the first thing that needs  major overhaul.

India did away with the jury system after the famous Nanavati case of 1960s. They felt it is very hard to entrust a group of 12 common people (jury) to understand fine legal  details of the trial, judicial details in a country where people are have very little or no education. It is true but it gave all the power to the judge. Made him/her like God with full control over the destiny of the accused. The judge is also a human being. They have their own failings. Is it wise to give all the power to one person like that? Definitely NOT. That is the reason behind the jury system. A legally trained person like judge may rush to judgement. Bias is more. It is hard to convince a group of 12 common people that someone is guilty. The prosecutors (accusing party) has to do a much much better job of explaining the case in most simplest terms and convince the jury that the accused is indeed guilty and the jury must award the most stringent sentence. The role of judge is only to guide and advise the members of jury during the trial and sentencing.

It is true that instituting the jury system in a large country like India with many poor people and poor infrastructure is very very hard. But the cases like Aarushi murder case bring out the need for trial by jury. In this case, the UP high court seriously criticized the way the lower court handled the case and called it as through the lower court judge enacted a drama. That shows how shabby was the trial at the lower court. If well endowed people like Talwars, who hired the best lawyers met such a treatment, you can imagine the plight of commoners without access to good legal representation. Pathetic!

If uniform country-wide jury system is not possible, at least, the accused should have right to demand trial by jury. The court may choose to charge extra for it but that must be permitted.

This is not the first high profile case where the higher court has totally overturned the judgement of the lower court. Not only that but also criticized the lower court for the way the trial was conducted.

Along with so called economic development, other aspects of the society also need to be developed. What's the use of economic prosperity if people have to constantly worry that they might become victims of a botched up judicial system and may end up spending years and years in jail when there was no case against them. Read again. I am saying no case against them. It does not mean they did not commit the crime. They may very well have committed the crime. But if there is not enough evidence, they are as not-guilty as any other person. That's why accused are pronounced not-guilty. Never pronounced INNOCENT. Justice system can't talk about innocence. It can only say guilty or not. That's it.

It has been already very late. Globalization, liberalization etc. started almost 30 years back. A lot of improvements have been made. A lot of prosperity has come. Now it is high time to start revising the legal system, criminal justice system. It will take good 30-40 years but a start must be made NOW. Otherwise don't be surprised if you are hauled and put in jail if your neighbor dies under suspicious circumstances and God forbid by chance you end up being accused!

Legal system should be such that nobody have to fear police, courts, jury etc. if they are clean. Only the really guilty have to be worried. That too only be worried of how to defend themselves against charges on them. Nobody need to worry that they may be victimized by the system. That's how it should be. No country or society can promise legal Nirvana but at least no victimization of the common man can be and must be aspired for.

If interested, read following books and watch following movies. All are excellent sources to get good information about the Aarushi double murder case.


Aarushi by Avirook Sen. A book by a journalist who followed the lower court trial very closely.

The killing of Aarushi and Murder of Justice by Rajesh Talwar. This Rajesh Talwar is different than the father of Aarushi who is also a Rajesh Talwar. The author is a lawyer. The highlight of this book is, in the book the author tries to develop a plausible alternate theory using his legal acumen. If parents did not commit those murders and if the friends of the servant did not commit them, whodunit?? Everyone is asking who killed Aarushi. Some answers may be found here.

Betrayed : My cousin's wrongful conviction for the murder of her daughter, Aarushi by Shree Paradkar. The author is a Canada based journalist and also the aunt of Aarushi (i.e. mother Nupur Talwar's cousin).

ಏನಾಯ್ತು ಮಗಳೇ by ರವಿ ಬೆಳಗೆರೆ - A book in Kannada based on the CBI report.


Talvar - Excellent movie by Meghna Gulzar. Well made!

Rahasya - Loosely based on the incident. An ok movie.


sunaath said...

ಉತ್ತಮ ವಿವರಣಾತ್ಮಕ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆಯನ್ನು ಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದೀರಿ. ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಕೆಲವಷ್ಟು ಪುಸ್ತಕಗಳನ್ನು ಹಾಗು ಚಲನಚಿತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಸೂಚಿಸಿದ್ದೀರಿ. ಧನ್ಯವಾದಗಳು. ಆರುಷಿ ಘಟನೆಯು ತುಂಬ ನೋವನ್ನುಂಟು ಮಾಡುತ್ತದೆ. ಮೊದಲನೆಯದಾಗಿ ಒಬ್ಬ ಕನಸು ಕಾಣುವ ಹುಡುಗಿಯ ಕೊಲೆ. ಎರಡನೆಯದಾಗಿ ಅವಳ ತಂದೆ,ತಾಯಿಗೆ ಆದ ಅನ್ಯಾಯ. ಅವರು innocent ಎಂದೇ ಭಾವಿಸಿರಿ; ಅವರಿಗಾದ ಅನ್ಯಾಯ ಕೇವಲ ೯ ವರ್ಷಗಳ loss ಅಷ್ಟೇ ಅಲ್ಲ. ಬದುಕಿನ ಇನ್ನುಳಿದ ವರ್ಷಗಳೂ ಸಹ ಅವರಿಗೆ ಸಾಮಾಜಿಕವಾಗಿ ಹಾಗು ಆರ್ಥಿಕವಾಗಿ ದುರ್ಭರವೇ ಆಗುವವು. ಅಲ್ಲದೆ, ತಮ್ಮ ಒಬ್ಬಳೇ ಮಗಳನ್ನು ಕೊಂದ ನೀಚನಾರು, ಅವನು ನೀಚತನವನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿಯೂ ತಪ್ಪಿಸಿಕೊಂಡನಲ್ಲ ಎನ್ನುವ ಕೊರಗು ಅವರ ಮನದಲ್ಲಿ ಉಳಿದು ಬಿಡುವುದು.

Mahesh Hegade said...

ಅವರಿಗಾದ ಅನ್ಯಾಯ ಕೇವಲ ೯ ವರ್ಷಗಳ loss ಅಷ್ಟೇ ಅಲ್ಲ. ಬದುಕಿನ ಇನ್ನುಳಿದ ವರ್ಷಗಳೂ ಸಹ ಅವರಿಗೆ ಸಾಮಾಜಿಕವಾಗಿ ಹಾಗು ಆರ್ಥಿಕವಾಗಿ ದುರ್ಭರವೇ ಆಗುವವು.

ನಿಮ್ಮ ಈ ಪಾಯಿಂಟ್ ನಿಜ ಸರ್.

ದೆಹಲಿಯ ಸೋಶಿಯಲ್ ಸರ್ಕಲ್ಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಓಡಾಡುವ ಮಿತ್ರನೊಬ್ಬ ಹೇಳಿದ್ದ....ದೆಹಲಿಯ ಹೈ ಫೈ ಸೊಸೈಟಿ ಆಗಲೇ ತೀರ್ಮಾನಿಸಿ ಆಗಿದೆ, ತಲ್ವಾರ್ ದಂಪತಿಗಳು ತಪ್ಪಿತಸ್ಥರೆಂದು.ಏನೇ ಮಾಡಿದರೂ ಅವರ ವಿಚಾರ ಬದಲಾಗುವದಿಲ್ಲ.

ಕಾಮೆಂಟಿಗೆ ಥ್ಯಾಂಕ್ಸ್.