The arguments in India's most intriguing murder trial came to a close on Tuesday. The Ghaziabad fast track court where Aarushi Talwar's parents Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were stood accused of the murders of their teenage daughter and servant, Hemraj, will pronounce its verdict on 25 November. The murders had taken place in May 2008, the court took up the trial in June 2012.
Proceedings began with defence counsel Satyaketu Singh demonstrating (with the help of golf club seized from the Talwars and a helmet) how the injuries to the fatal injuries to the heads of the victims could not have been caused by this piece of sporting equipment. Incidentally, the CBI never sent the golf clubs for examination by the post-mortem doctors for an opinion on whether one of them could be the murder weapon. It was the opinion of the investigating officer A.G.L. Kaul that this was the case, and that was that.
The alleged use of the golf clubs later brought in comical expert opinion to the court. A key prosecution expert seemed to suggest the victims were struck in the same manner as a snooker player uses a cue-stick. And R.K. Saini, the CBI counsel questioned a defence witness by aggressively suggesting that the man had suppressed scientific literature on "swingless" golf club injuries.
Much has been alleged by the CBI on the conduct of the Talwars through the investigation and through the trial. The charges range from looking suspicious, not looking grief-stricken enough, and later, trying to delay the trial by running to the higher judiciary on a regular basis.
The Talwars have been castigated for doing this by the trial court as well as the Supreme Court.
Their answer is this: Can't anyone see what is going on?
The evidence before the trial court reveals far more about the conduct of the CBI than it does about the Talwars.
There are blatant instances of tampering with key evidence. During his brief rebuttal on Tuesday, the CBI counsel admitted for the first time that seals on critical pieces of evidence was broken. Apparently to investigate more thoroughly, and then quietly replaced as if nothing had happened. No court had heard this alarming story from the CBI in this case because the agency chose not to tell it. No surprises there: this sort of stuff is patently illegal.
In the year and a half that the trial has taken, the agency has also never really made clear its case. Was it grave and sudden provocation--the motive elaborately outlined in the CBI's 2010 closure report? And sometimes salaciously described by prosecution witnesses--the father seeing his daughter having sex with the servant. In his rebuttal, the CBI counsel effectively said the closure report was as good as waste paper and grave and sudden provocation was never its case. Then what is? This part is still unclear.
Perhaps we'll get a better idea on judgement day.Read more:
Did the CBI tamper with evidence?
Are the Talwars the only possible suspects?
Were the Talwars on the internet?
CBI experts, evidence under scrutinyTalwars question CBI's weapon theory Read Complete Coverage
Avirook Sen has been a journalist and writer for over 20 years. A former resident editor of Hindustan Times (Mumbai) and editor of Mid-Day, he has written with passion and insight on subjects as varied as sport and terrorism for top publications across the world. His first book, Looking for America, was published in 2010 to enthusiastic reviews. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org