Why did CBI discard crucial evidence in Aarushi case?
From suspects to murder weapons to the manner of death, the CBI inquiries into the Aarushi murder case have been fraught with contradictions. Firstpost looks at how the CBI dismissed a crucial piece of physical evidence for reasons not fully explained.
New Delhi: Few cases have ever witnessed the kind of mass hysteria generated by the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case from the moment it broke on the front pages of newspapers on a hot summer morning in May 2008. Almost four years later, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar will appear before a trial court on 4 February in Uttar Pradesh, after the Supreme Court earlier this month refused to quash the lower court’s order to put the couple on trial for the two murders.
In 2008, on the intervening night of 15 - 16 May, between 12 midnight and 1 am, 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar and 45-year-old Nepali domestic help Hemraj were brutally murdered in the apartment of the dentist couple in Noida. And since, the case has seen as many twists as the investigating officers who have handled it – first the Uttar Pradesh Police, then a CBI team headed by Arun Kumar, followed by a second CBI team who infamously submitted a Closure Report in December 2010. (Read more).
Consider the series of ‘suspects’. First, there was Hemraj (suspected of killing Aarushi until his body was found on the terrace the next day). Next it was Rajesh Talwar, and third, the three servants who were known to the Talwars and Hemraj: Krishna Thadarai (Rajesh’s compounder), Raj Kumar (domestic help of the neighbours) and Vijay Mandal (who also worked in the neighborhood). Finally, now, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar.
Then consider the series of ‘murder weapons’ . First it was a Khukri. Then it was a combination of weapons – a surgical instrument plus a blunt object, and finally a golf stick has been identified as the weapon that inflicted the death blows. And there is the ‘sequence of murder’ series. The initial claim was that Hemraj was murdered in Aarushi’s room in a fit of rage by Rajesh and then dragged and dumped on the terrace. But then the CBI in its closure report tells the court, “There is no evidence to prove that Hemraj was killed in the room of Aarushi.”
The CBI is now back to its first theory. A report published earlier this month in the Times of India, quotes the CBI as saying “Dr Rajesh Talwar started hitting with the golf club with the intention to kill Hemraj. The first blow landed on the back side of the head of Hemraj since that side was top most. On getting hit once or twice, Hemraj collapsed and fell down. Shifting of the position of the head of Hemraj resulted in the blows of golf club landing on the forehead of Aarushi. This resulted in frontal injuries to Aarushi.”
Firstpost examines one of the many contradictions in the CBI’s investigation of the Aarushi-Hemraj case, based entirely on the CBI’s own reports, and applications submitted to the special CBI court during the course of the investigation. In this story, we examine the CBI’s dismissal of a crucial piece of physical evidence; one that confirms the presence of the blood of one of the victims on the pillow covers of one of the earlier suspects in the case.
Closure Report: “No outsiders were involved”
On 13 June 2008, barely two weeks after the CBI took over the investigation of the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case from the Uttar Pradesh police, Krishna Thadarai - Rajesh’s compounder who assisted him in his dental clinic – was arrested and subsequently remanded in CBI police custody. Ten days later, on June 23, the CBI moved an application in the special CBI court in Ghaziabad for an extension of Krishna’s custody in which it makes quite a compelling case for not releasing him.
“..during the investigation accused Krishna Thadarai was subjected to polygraph test in the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, New Delhi, repeated polygraph, brain mapping and narco analysis test in the Forensic Science Laboratory, Bangalore, and Psychological Assessment Test by the experts from forensic medicine to verify the veracity of his statement. "Some of the reports have been received which establish that the accused Krishna Thadarai is not truthful in his answers relating to his involvement in the commission of the murder of Aarushi and Hemraj. That accused though admitted to his involvement in the crime along with others is not cooperating in the investigation and misleading the investigating officers with regard to the recovery of various articles related with the crime, which are essentially required to be recovered....That the investigation is continuing and the facts revealed by the accused are being verified and in the interest of justice and on-going investigation, further sustained custodial interrogation of accused is essentially required for recovery of weapon of offence, blood stained cloths, mobile phones of victims....It is a blind murder case and investigation is going on scientific lines, hence further extension of police remand of accused Krishna Thadarai is necessary.”
About a month later - on 27 July - Krishna is still in custody and the CBI dismisses Krishna’s complaint that he is being wrongfully detained and subjected to scientific tests without his consent. Describing Krishna’s complaint as “false, frivolous, baseless and concocted to create a false alibi to deflect the blame from himself during the trial before the court”, the CBI in its reply tells the court that “the accused is very much concerned with the household of Dr Talwar, being his employer, and frequently visited his house including the day when Aarushi and Hemraj were murdered.” (emphasis added)
The CBI further tells the court that “the accused is actively involved in the commission of the crime as established by the scientific tests conducted on him” and that he was arrested “only after getting sufficient material against him of his involvement in the conspiracy and murder of Aarushi and Hemraj”. Cut to December 2010. While admitting in its closure report that “Krishna and Raj Kumar were Nepalis known to Hemraj and had access to the home of Dr Rajesh Talwar”, the CBI says it has “conclusively established that the servants could not have committed the crime...” Contradicting its earlier observation of Krishna’s familiarity with the Talwar household, the CBI argues that “servants would not have had the guts to assemble in the house of Dr Talwar when both the doctors were present in the house.”
‘Except the narco test, which is not reliable’ there is no evidence against the servants according to the CBI. It is worth mentioning here, in Rajesh and Nupur’s case, that the CBI did not even find evidence in the narco test. So much so, it admitted that one of shortcomings in the evidence, was that “scientific tests on Dr Rajesh Talwar and Dr Nupur Talwar have not conclusively indicated their involvement in the crime.” The real shocker, however, is the CBI’s dismissal of a crucial piece of physical evidence; one that confirms the presence of the blood of one of the victims on the pillow covers of one of the earlier suspects.
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This piece of evidence, submitted by the CBI along with its closure report to the court, mysteriously finds no mention in the report itself. A short recap. On the morning of 14 June 2008, about a month after the murders, a CBI team accompanied by experts from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) arrived at Krishna’s residence and took possession of some of his personal belongings. Among items seized was a purple pillow-cover that was used by him.
In its ‘inspection-cum-seizure’ memo, the investigating team recorded that “some spots have been found on a pillow-cover and clothes of Krishna which are suspicious and require to be examined by experts in the lab.” The CFSL report, submitted two weeks later, confirmed that the spots on the pillow-cover were indeed blood. Subsequently, the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) was asked by the CBI to identify and match the DNA samples collected from the crime scene with those of the suspects, including samples from Rajesh and Nupur.
The blood-stained purple-coloured pillow recovered from Krishna’s residence was also sent. The CDFD report dated 6 November 2008, showed that the DNA profiles of samples extracted from the blood-stains on Krishna’s pillow-cover, a bloodstained palm-print on the terrace wall of the Talwar residence and the blood-stained scotch bottle found on the dining table were identical. The DNA profile, in turn, matched with the DNA profile of samples taken from Hemraj’s personal belongings - two razors and a broken comb. Thus confirming that the blood on Krishna’s pillow cover was that of Hemraj.
Quoting from the CDFD report: “The DNA profiles of the sources of exhibit W (DNA sample said to be extracted from the bloodstained palm print found on the wall of the roof/terrace, marked as 24), exhibit X (DNA sample said to be extracted from the exhibit 6d bottle) and exhibit Z20 (one pillow cover, purple-coloured cloth) are of male origin and identical.
It adds that “The DNA profiles of the sources of exhibit W, exhibit X and exhibit Z20 are not matching with the DNA profiles of the sources of the exhibit H (blood samples said to be of Mr Krishna Thadarai)....” Thus implying that the blood found on the blood-stained palm print, the scotch bottle and the purple-coloured pillow, while being ‘of male-origin and identical’ did not belong to Krishna.
In its conclusion the CDFD report states, “The DNA profile from the source of the exhibit W, (DNA sample said to be extracted from the blood-stained palm print found on the wall of the roof/terrace, marked 24), exhibit X (DNA sample said to be extracted from exhibit 6d bottle), exhibit U (broken hair comb, article said to be of Mr Hemraj), exhibit R (two razors, articles said to be of Mr Hemraj), Z20 (one pillow-cover, purple coloured cloth) and exhibit Z30 (one bed cover (multi-coloured) with suspected spots of blood) are from the same male individual distinct from and unrelated to the sources of exhibit H (Mr Krishna Thadarai) exhibit I (Mr Rajkumar) and exhibit J (Dr Rajesh Talwar) and exhibit Z26 (Mr Vijay Mandal).” In other words, the DNA profile of samples extracted from the bloodstained handprint on the wall, the scotch bottle, the purple-coloured pillow-cover were identical and matched with DNA profile of samples extracted from Hemraj’s personal belongings.
Having either ignored or missed a crucial lead nothing short of a breakthrough in the case, the CBI on being confronted with it, shockingly dismissed it as a “typographical error on the part of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnositcs.”
Why then was an erroneous report submitted to the court? Has anybody been held accountable for this astonishing level of incompetence?
And so, just like that, the country’s premier investigating agency dismissed a crucial piece of evidence which its own investigation had revealed. Tellingly, it was a piece of evidence that questioned the very basis of the CBI’s closure report and could have hugely embarrassed the agency.
Bhatia, also a senior advocate, has urged the court to seek a detailed report from the state government regarding FIRs registered, arrests made and steps taken against the perpetrators
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