Aarushi trial: The case against Talwars is based on shoddy investigation

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 06, 2013 18:53 hrs

There is a clear sense in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial that the prosecution has run out of witnesses who might take the case forward. So far, the CBI case looks like a set of conclusions drawn from the dubious inputs provided by (state-employed) state witnesses.

The primary conclusion isn’t even a conclusion — it is more a question: how can parents of a brutally murdered child not grieve (when our witness met them)?

The proceedings of the last three months may not have got any closer to the truth about who killed Aarushi, but the hearings have established beyond any reasonable doubt that the investigation was shoddy, and the inevitable prosecution cover-up positively malign.

To illustrate: The CBI did its best to plant a trace of Hemraj’s blood in Aarushi’s room, using poor paperwork to its initial advantage. The agency stood exposed once the original pieces of material evidence it “relied” on were produced in court, and was forced into a shamefaced admission.

One of the early proponents of the “no grief” theory was a city magistrate called Sanjay Chauhan, who made the incredible claim that he would routinely drive 56 km up and down to take a morning walk in the Talwars’ neighbourhood.

He reached the scene on the morning Aarushi’s body was discovered of his own volition, he said—and ‘they were not grieving’. Its interesting to note that no other officer who was at the scene and has been examined by the court (there have been several) recalled that Chauhan was present.

The last two witnesses in the case have been policemen involved with the investigation. The first, Hari Singh, categorically said that he hadn’t recorded the statements of several witnesses. He was then confronted with the records, and finally remembered that he had indeed taken down many statements.

Hari Singh had also seized lots of footwear belonging to the Talwars — the idea being to match them with the bloody footprints on the roof, where Hemraj’s body was found. But the policeman had no idea whether any kind of matching was actually done. (It was, the prints didn’t fit by some margin.)

Richpal Singh came next. A more senior officer, he was actually in charge of the case for about six months. But his role in court seemed to be to parrot the seizure memos that he had signed off on.

A vital article came into the CBI’s possession in a circuitous manner. This was Aarushi’s cellphone, found by a local slum-dweller in a park near the Talwars’ NOIDA flat, taken away by the finder’s cousin to Western UP, and finally traced and recovered by the Delhi police.

Did Richpal Singh ask for the call records on the phone? No, said the cop, no one asked him to do this. Did he at least, record a statement from the man who handed the phone over— to get to the bottom of how it ended up where it was? He didn’t do that either.

The list of what the investigators did not do is about as long as the list of things they did but cannot remember.

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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 avirook@gmail.com