The prosecution witness who testified before the special court in Ghaziabad hearing the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial on Monday dealt with evidence that is critical to the case: the weapons alleged to have caused fatal injuries to both victims — two golf clubs, part of a set of 12 displayed in court.
Laxman Singh’s testimony went off without incident, but his cross-examination revealed one of two things: either that he was lying; or that the seals placed on crucial evidence had been broken or tampered with.
Singh said he was present at the CBI office when Umesh, the Talwars’ driver, pulled out two clubs from a maroon golf bag and identified them as “numbers 4 and 5”.
Umesh, who is still in the employ of the accused, Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, was declared hostile by the court because he denied identifying the golf clubs.
At issue was a memo dated 2 August, 2010. This memo bears Umesh’s signature (along with Laxman Singh’s and CBI investigating officer A.G.L. Kaul, among others) and states that he was shown the clubs and identified them as the ones he had taken from Dr Talwar’s car and placed in the servant Hemraj’s room. The memo was in English, said Umesh.
Besides, officer Kaul had hit him hard enough on a previous interview to damage his ear. Umesh testified that he signed what was placed before him out of fear, and said that Kaul had asked for it after his ear injury on that day.
Laxman Singh was an “independent witness” to this event. He works for the Delhi Development Authority, and says he was asked to go to Kaul’s office in the CBI headquarters by a superior on the day the memo was written.
Singh had said the golf clubs were taken out of the bag. The bag and the set of clubs are two separate pieces of evidence, sealed and displayed separately. The hood of the bag still bears a 2009 CFSL seal. The only way the golf clubs could have come out of the bag a year later is if they were placed in it after breaking the seal. This apparently, wasn’t done. So how did the CBI’s independent witness see what came out of bag?More on Aarushi trial: Trial games set to intensify as Nupur gets bailPeculiar development stumps CBI CBI's loss is Talwars' gainFriends of the Talwars give testimonyKiller's palm print lost due to a cop's negligence?The mystery of the bloodstained, locked terrace door
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Currently a visiting fellow at INSEAD, France, 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