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Issue No.: 560 | February 2014
 

Shoddy Probe, Flawed Verdict?

Advaita Lonkar
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Judgement is prejudice made plausible. Gurudarshan Singh, the then IG (Inspector General), Meerut would have had the last laugh. He had caused public furore in May 2008 by arresting Dr. RajeshTalwar for the murder of his 13 year old daughter Aarushi and 45 year old domestic help Hemraj and announcing he did it in anger on finding his daughter and the help in a compromising position – the "honour killing theory”. What was then seen as crude innuendo has now received legitimacy – the CBI special court in Ghaziabad has convicted Talwar and his wife Nupur, also a dentist like him.

The court said there was a "clinching wealth of circumstance” to prove the Talwars guilty. The judgement has raised eyebrows and will be challenged. Two teams of CBI have been working on this case since 2008. The second has followed a different line of investigation; one that lead to the guilt of Aarushi’s parents. But through the testimony of the witnesses, the second team has also questioned the integrity of its predecessor. K K Gautam, a retired UP police officer took this stand as a prosecution witness in the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder trial. He told the court that "the first CBI team attributed to him crucial things he did not say. It also left out vital information that he had provided.”

K. K. Gautam came into the picture, according to the statement he gave on May 17, 2008. He was instrumental in discovery of Hemraj’s body on the roof of Dr. Rajesh & NupurTalwar’s Noida flat. This statement was recorded by the first team of the CBI, led by the Joint Director Arun Kumar; which had taken over the investigation within weeks of the murders. Here lies of our first major hook.

 In 2008, out of the total 32,481 murder cases that were reported to have happened in the nation, 5480 or 10% of the total murders occurred in Uttar Pradesh. In a state having one of the highest murder rates in the country, how does a simple as ABC, bourgeois case succeed in grasping the attention of the then Chief Minister so much so that the case is over-diligently transferred to the CBI within 15 days of perpetration of the crime. Was the UP government the adversary in this case? Or was it a run-of-the-mill case which was made bizarre by the media trial?

The first team led by Arun Kumar had claimed that it was close to cracking the case – it was working on the involvement of the other Nepali servants from the neighbourhood who knew Hemraj. But in September 2009, after 1 year 3 months of the crime, Kumar’s team was replaced by one led by Superintendent of Police (SP) Nilabh Kishore, reportedly because evidence had been tampered with.

The case turned with this change and so did many witnesses, including the former UP cop K. K. Gautam whose statement to the first team of the CBI has him finding out about the murders on May 17th and also that he did not know the Talwar couple before the incident. But his eye doctor, a friend of Rajesh’s brother Dinesh – insisted that he visits the flat again. There he notices, with his policeman’s eye, depressions on Hemraj’s bed that suggest three people had been seated on it. That there are three glasses on the floor and the servant’s bathroom is dirty, as if several people have used it and haven’t flushed.

In 2009, Gautam is summoned by the CBI team once again. This time, AGL Kaul, the new IO (Investigating Officer) in the case records a further statement. Gautam now says that he disinterred that Aarushi had been murdered on May 16th and not 17th as he had ascertained earlier. His eye doctor, Sushil Chaudhary had called him and asked if he could use his influence to get the word "rape” left out of the post-mortem reports of Aarushi. Gautam proclaimed the trial court that he told the first team of CBI all of this, but did not know why it wasn’t recorded. He also said that the officer recording his first statement included several things he did not say, the depressions on Hemraj’s bed, for instance. Here lies our second major hook.

There have been radical discrepancies between the statements given by K. K. Gautam to the two respective investigative teams of CBI. The CBI court should have looked into this inconsistency. How can a police officer investigating the case prima-facie distort his statement regarding the "time of death” of the victim? Moreover there was no further inquiry about the three people who were present in Hemraj’s bedroom on the day of perpetration of crime. What Gautam effectively told the court was that, a CBI officer from the first team distorted several things he said, added things he did not say and produced a statement that suited the line of investigation at the time.

A couple of questions remain though – Gautam says he read his earlier statement again as he gave his second, and wished to clarify "some points”. In it, he does not mention that there were fabrications or embellishments by the CBI officer recording his first statement. In court, however, he accused the man from the first team of the CBI of doing exactly the same things. Ask anyone in the CBI’s current team about what they think of the first, and they always say – and never with slightest irony – "They did a wonderful job.” Was K. K. Gautam lying about the man in the first CBI team? Are the two teams of the CBI covering up for each other? And most importantly, what about the eye doctor, Sushil Chaudhary who is also evidently under suspicion. What was the motive of K. K. Gautam in distorting his own statement before the second CBI team? Was he lying then or is he lying now? The CBI trial would definitely be looked upon as unfair by many; until and unless these questions go unanswered. These very many unanswered questions have predominantly enhanced the complexity of this case.

This case definitely has been an appalling crime of horror which has raised the eyebrows of the entire nation. All said and done, whether the trial is fair or unfair? Ex facie it is fair because we live in a democracy and in accordance with the principles of criminal jurisprudence every accused is innocent until guilt is established beyond any reasonable doubt. But whether the judgement is fair? Let us cross our fingers. Wait and watch.

ADVAITA  LONKAR
F.Y. B.A.,
Ramnarain Ruia College, Matunga.

 
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