Yet another application by the Talwars was rejected by the special CBI court in the Aarushi-Hemraj trial on Wednesday. No surprises there, all the pleas the Talwars have made to the trial court in the last six months have been turned down. And when they have gone further up the judicial system, exactly the same thing has happened. Once you cut through the dense legal language and the forest of detail that populates these applications, Aarushi's parents have asked just one thing of anyone in the judiciary prepared to listen: give us a fair trial.
Their latest rejection came on their plea that two witnesses they feel may change the course of the trial completely be called. The journalist Nalini Singh, and a CBI officer called Anuj Arya.
Singh went on record last week to say that Arya, then an investigator in the case, had come to her a few months into the investigation with an unusual request. Singh had nothing to do with the crime or the Talwars, but she was asked to supply the playlist for the songs aired by the Nepali channel she ran, post 11.45 pm on the night of 15/16 May 2008. The night of the murders.
Singh told NDTV that she supplied the playlist and was informed by the officer that the songs matched what three former suspects had revealed in the scientific tests conducted on them: they were the songs that played as they the three, Krishna, Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal sat and watched in Hemraj's room.
The slim, even negligible, chances of this being a coincidence was what spurred the CBI on to contact Singh. But even after getting the match, the agency could not extract a confession and the servants were let off. And then, there was a change of personnel in the case. Result: the Talwars replaced the servants as the prime suspects.
The defence argued that the CBI's case against the Talwars was based fundamentally on the circumstance that there were four people in closed flat, there were no intruders, and that two died and two lived. Shouldn't the two that saw the next morning be the prime suspects?
This argument, and therefore the whole case, breaks down if there is any evidence that there were others in the house at the time of the murders. The Nepali songs playing on Nalini Singh's channel then assume immeasurable significance.
The prosecution rebutted this by questioning where the information came from in the first place: the narco analysis of the suspects; something deemed unreliable and inadmissible by the Supreme Court in the first place.
The section pertaining to the use of narco analysis in evidence says a few things quite clearly:
- that such reports can't be used against the accused.
- but that evidence collected pursuant to a revelation made in the narco can, provided there is a disclosure statement given by the person undergoing such a test, when he isn't under the influence of administered chemicals.
The defence has argued that a khukri belonging to Krishna was recovered post his narco revelations. So Singh and Arya's statements must also be admitted. But the CBI counsel told the court that this recovery was unconnected to the narco: there was no disclosure statement.
Except that there was. Prosecution witness number 37, a cop called Vijay Kumar said explicitly under cross examination during that the recovery of the khukri came after Krishna's disclosures about the night of the murders. It doesn't stop at that. The CBI had pleaded to extend Krishna's custody post the tests and the recoveries and a haziabad magistrate, in a17 June order, records that the disclosure statements have been perused.
The CBI now argues that they don't exist.
And the trial judge agreed with the agency. And with the Supreme Court, which passes a scathing order a few weeks ago accusing the Talwars of trying to delay the trial.
So final arguments from the defence begin on Thursday. And the trial will likely progress on a daily basis from then on. The end is near.
And what about the media?
One incident from Wednesday's proceedings tells you the whole sordid story. In the afternoon, the electronic media began running a piece of breaking news: the CBI counsel R.K. Saini was feeling threatened by Dr Rajesh Talwar, and that he had brought this to the notice of the court. Policemen arrived to protect the prospective victim. Who, when I spoke to him said: 'Pata nahin yeh log kya chala dete hain news mein...'.
Had he actually told the court that he was under threat? He had, he said. Dr Talwar had been "making eyes" at him. After which he had told the court that "anything could happen" outside the court, "patthar bhi phek sakte hain".
The judge considered this and asked Saini whether there was anything wrong with looking at him ("Kya aap pe nazar lag jayegi?). He also told him not to bring up petty matters.
In terms of confrontation, much worse has happened in the same courtroom. But for the media, the threat to Saini was the breaking news for the afternoon.
As bytes and explanations were being sought about the possible danger to the counsel, the monkeys that reside in the complex looked on. Probably shaking their heads, cursing Darwin.
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