As news channels went berserk with their ‘khulasas’, the point of Tuesday’s hearing in the Aarushi-Hemraj murders was, as usual, lost. A.G.L. Kaul, the CBI ASP who was the hands-on investigator in the latter part of the case told the court he had concluded that Aarushi’s parents Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were the only people who could have committed the murders of their daughter and servant.
The point of course is this: if Kaul was so certain, then why weren’t the Talwars' charge-sheeted in the first place? Why did Kaul and his specially put together team of investigators chose instead to file a closure report in 2010? One said that there wasn’t enough evidence against the Talwars, but suggested their involvement anyway. It is often forgotten that it was the Talwars’ objections to the insinuations in the closure report that led a court to initiate this trial.
Till that intervention, the CBI had maintained it didn’t want to proceed against the Talwars because it didn’t have enough of a case for a conviction. The facts haven’t changed since then, so in a sense, the CBI is making the case up as the trial progresses. It shows in every hearing, it showed on Tuesday.
A rotund man with an air of knowing it all, Kaul began with an honest admission: he had indeed created a macabre e-mail address ‘email@example.com' specifically for communication with the Talwars and their friends. (Hemraj was the Talwars’ murdered Nepali servant, and they lived in Jalvayuvihar, a housing complex in the Delhi suburb of NOIDA).
The CBI chose to deny any such address existed for years — no rules of business nor even the lowest standards of propriety, allow this — but the agency was forced into an embarrassing admission after being exposed in August last year in this publication.
The mails not only showed poor form — in the use of the victim’s name — but also betrayed malice. The Talwars were already guilty in the eyes of the CBI. In some countries, the whole bunch of mails would have been thrown out of court.
In Ghaziabad, the CBI man referred to one mail that was significant. It was from the Talwars’ friend Ajay Chaddha, and addressed to Kaul (aka ‘Hemraj’). Chaddha had been asked for details about the recovery of two golf clubs that were missing from Rajesh Talwar’s set. Chaddha and Nupur Talwar had found the clubs in a loft as they cleaned the apartment many months after the murders and they were handed over to the CBI.
One of these golf clubs is the alleged murder weapon. And the defence will have to explain why Chaddha wrote that the Talwars inspected the clubs for blood stains (there were none) before investigators seized them.
Much of what Kaul told the court on Tuesday is in the closure report, complete with the same significant omissions.
The thrust of Kaul’s deposition is ‘no one else’ could have committed the murders. But two officers from the CBI who were involved in the first phase of the investigation have told the trial court recently that the Nepali servants who worked for the Talwars and their neighbours had admitted to commiting the crimes. That this was part of record. The officers said they didn’t pursue this line of investigation because the servants ‘flip-flopped’ about their admissions.
The CBI’s closure report also says that the ‘only’ evidence against the servants is in their narco-analysis—something that is inadmissible, which is why this line wasn’t pursued either. They have taken care not to part with the contents on those reports. The agency has, however, submitted the Talwars’ narco reports to the courts (there is no pointer to guilt in them). In the case of the servants, they have left out all operative pages, in a manner that makes it look like a minor error of omission.
Evidence of the CBI making the case up as it goes along comes with almost every hearing. As witnesses, it has paraded a doctor who claimed that corpses could retain erections based on the experience of his own marriage. A forensic expert who was fed false information that Hemraj’s blood was found in Aarushi’s room (it was not) and created the theory that the CBI case rests on, deposed about it unblinkingly recently. That the premise was false didn’t strike the khulasawahallahs of Indian news television.
Kaul was no different. He told the court about the “scientific” test that he had conducted (with equipment like paint, water and willing minions) on whether two people could carry a fatally injured man up a flight of stairs. (He concluded this was possible…)
Typically, the main investigating officer is the last prosecution witness, so there is a sense that the prosecution’s case, such as it is, will rest soon. But not before Kaul answers a couple of hundred questions during his cross-examination.
Where is the common sense?
Convicted in one murder, cop witness in another
A case full of holes
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