ALLAHABAD — The Allahabad High Court Oct. 12 acquitted dentists Rajesh and Nupur Talwar of the murders of their teenage daughter Aarushi and domestic helper Hemraj.
The Talwars, who were serving life terms, were given the benefit of doubt in a case that still has many unanswered questions about the sensational killings that occurred nine years ago.
A bench of Justice B.K. Narayana and Justice A.K. Mishra released the couple in the murder of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar at their Jalvayu Vihar home in Noida May 16, 2008.
Tanveer Ahmed Mir, lawyer for the couple, said they were able to prove that the Central Bureau of Investigation case had no basis or legs to stand on. "Once the basis of the prosecution was knocked out because it was unbelievable, then there was no motive. There was no sterling witness."
Aditya Wadhwa, another defense lawyer, said it was unjustified to blame the parents for the murder just because there was no other person present in the room where Aarushi Talwar was found dead.
He said both the judges found the charges against them baseless and there was no strength in the CBI’s allegations.
Dhruv Gupta, another counsel for the accused parents, said there were no eyewitnesses and in a case that depends on circumstantial evidence "the law of the land is that the benefit of doubt goes to the accused."
"Also when is an alternative hypothesis, the benefit of doubt again goes to the accused."
The couple is expected to be set free from Dasna jail in Ghaziabad Oct. 13. Their relatives expressed happiness over the judgement, saying finally the ordeal is over for the couple.
"I am thankful to the judiciary for giving a positive verdict. It has been a stressful life since Aarushi Talwar was killed. I am grateful for the acquittal of Rajesh and Nupur. Allow us to soak in the news. We always knew they were not guilty," Aarushi Talwar's maternal grandfather B.G. Chitnis said.
Reacting to the verdict, the CBI said it would study the Allahabad High Court order and "decide the future course of action."
Pinaki Mishra, the lawyer who appeared for the couple in the Supreme Court, said the CBI will have no case to argue in the Supreme Court. "In fact, they will have to answer a number of questions in the Supreme Court as to why they did not investigate properly."
After a Special CBI Court in Ghaziabad convicted them for the murders in 2013 and handed them life terms, the Talwars appealed in the Allahabad High Court against the verdict.
Former CBI Director A.P. Singh, who then headed the agency when it took over the case, said: "There were loopholes in our investigation and that is why we had closed the case saying it was inconclusive."
He said the High Court verdict "does not say that the Talwars didn't do it" but that there was not enough evidence against them.
Aarushi Talwar was found murdered in her bedroom, following which Hemraj was initially a suspect. However, his body was found a day later in a pool of blood on the house’s terrace.
The Uttar Pradesh Police accused Rajesh Talwar of killing his daughter in a fit of rage after he allegedly found Aarushi Talwar in a compromising situation with Hemraj. Rajesh Talwar was arrested May 23, 2008.
On May 31, the CBI took over the case. It initially absolved the parents of conspiracy and murder but later held them responsible.
On June 13, Rajesh Talwar's compounder Krishna was arrested by the CBI. Ten days later, Raj Kumar, a servant of a doctor friend of the Talwars, and Vijay Mandal, the domestic help of the Talwars' neighbor, were also nabbed.
The three were later freed after no evidence was found against them.