New Delhi: Despite a special court of the Central Bureau of India holding Rajesh and Nupur Talwar guilty of murdering their daughter and a help, a journalist-turned-author has come out with a book saying there was "no evidence to prove the talwars were guilty."
Avirook Sen looked into the details of the double murder case, in which 13-year-old Arushi Talwar and the family help 45-year-old Hemraj Banjade were murdered in their Noida home on May 15, 2008.
After prolonged investigation and trial, the CBI court held the parents guilty of the two murders and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The case is on appeal. Sen says in his book 'Arushi' that the parents did not get justice.
"The investigation polarised everybody. I feel that there was a set of people who felt that the Talwars were guilty and the other set who thought they weren't. But one must not forget the evidence itself. So when we have opinions taking control of the whole issue - evidence itself sometimes gets undermined - that's what happened in the case," Sen told IANS.
According to the introduction to the book brought out by Penguin, the Aarushi case got "higher ratings (in the media) than Indian Premier League games. The idea of the teenager and the servant engaged in coitus intrigued middle-class Indians." It becasme the most talked about double murder in the country.
"If there is a factual indication of the Talwars committing the crime, they should be prosecuted the same way everyone is, but I don't see evidence proving them guilty," sen said.
He said that his book was about something very fundamental - "miscarriage of justice". There were a lot of "plants" in the beginning in the media that continued to influence the case throughout, he added.
Looking at the mystery behind the murder, newspapers and television channels had put forth their own interpretations and predictions. There were headlines reading 'Dr Death and the House of Horror' and 'Attack Showed Clinical Precision and Planning', as recounted in Sen's book.
"There were a lot of unnamed reports by media which called the Talwars wife-swappers with no evidence or attribution. The perception in the public mind of the Talwar's lifestyle, changed considerably because of these plants. Both the investigators and the media were responsible for the perception," Sen maintained, adding that the media failed to do its job in verifying facts.
Trying to pick holes in the presecution's stand, Sen said that one of the crucial pieces of evidence was a pillow cover on which Hemraj's blood was found. "The forensic scientist B.K. Mohapatra insisted that Hemraj's pillow cover was seized from Aarushi's room, suggesting Hemraj was killed there. (He) eventually admitted this wasn't the case," the book says.
"It dates back to early 2011 at Allahabad High Court where the photographs of this pillow and pillow cover were shown. If a forensic item was shown, it means clearly the seal was broken. Who had taken these photographs and what was the integrity of the piece of evidence, were questions that CBI never answered," Sen contended. He said the seal could be broken on a court order.
Sen's book details his interview with judge Shyam Lal and his son, Ashutosh. The son told him that he was the one who typed the beginning (of the judgment) personally. "The First 10 pages," Ashutosh told Sen, adding that the 210-page judgment took more than a month to type.
"Judge Shyam Lal pronounced his judgment on 25 November 2013. Tanveer Ahmed Mir, counsel for the defence, began his final arguments on 24 October. Over the next two weeks he would argue on a total of 24 circumstances that he felt should lead to acquittal," said Sen in the book aimed at showing that the judgment was being written even before the defence finished its arguments.
Sen said that lawyer for the Talwars had told him on a TV show that he would use the material in the book for their appeal.