The discomfort of the Aarushi judgement

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 26, 2013 17:21 hrs

I had started reporting on this trial in June last year, and from the very beginning had a great sense of discomfort about one aspect of it: the quiet presumption on the part of almost everyone that I spoke to, that a minor girl, barely into her teens, was having an affair.

That a girl that age could be dragged through the mud without a shred of proof I found hard to believe. Through the trial, perhaps, the proof would come, I thought. It never came.

No evidence that Aarushi was having sex with Hemraj was ever presented--it was never even established that the two were in the same room on the night they were murdered. But the assaults on Aarushi's character continued.

In court, an expert from Gujarat, who came on the scene a year and a half after the event solemnly testified that there was intercourse.

Outside, prosecution counsel made obscene recreations of her privates with their hands.

As I read the 204 page order that gave Aarushi's parents life imprisonment, the same unease that I had when I first reported on the case has returned. The judgment repeats the slander that Aarushi was having intercourse, and does it without proof.

The order relies on the "wet spot" that was found on Aarushi's bed, and argues that this must be evidence of cleaning her private parts. Unless there was intercourse, why would her private parts be cleaned?

First, the wet spot. Aarushi's post-mortem doctor mentioned a whitish discharge; an expert gynecologist said a post-mortem fluid discharge was nothing abnormal.

The question is, is there no other explanation for the wet spot but intercourse? That is a question that goes to the dark heart of this story.

The order is curiously worded when dealing with this aspect in many parts. The word intercourse appears a few times with regard to Aarushi, but the word "pecker" (for Hemraj's penis) has probably never been used before in Indian jurisprudence.

(I am happy to be corrected on this). There are a number of other firsts in the judgement.

In the frenzied search for topics to debate about the trial, one issue was repeatedly raised. Wasn't this just a class thing? Would there be such outrage if the servants had done it? Why wasn't there any sympathy for them? And so on.

When I've been asked, I've stuck to the position that this is a murder trial. The evidence is what we should look at; and evidence doesn't have class, ethnicity or religion.

I found this staggering paragraph on class, and evidence, in the order: "One must not forget that Bharti Mandal is a totally illiterate and bucolic lady from a lower strata of the society... Who came to NOIDA to perform menial job to sustain herself and therefore, if she has stated that she has given her statement on the basis of tutoring, her evidence cannot be rejected."

Bharti Mandals testimony was key in convincing the court that the Talwars' door was locked from inside: therefore, they must have done it.

The order effectively says two things: that people from the "lower strata", may be tutored. And that this tutored testimony is as good as any other under oath.

Even when the implication is a murder conviction. Wow.

Read more:

The Talwars: Killers or victims?

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

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