The Aarushi Talwar-Hemraj double murder case should go down as a painful reminder of everything that is wrong with the Indian criminal investigation and justice system.
Consider the irony of the situation. It has been almost a decade since the young girl and the domestic help were killed. Not only have the investigating agencies failed to find out who killed them, but the justice system also ended up punishing people who it could not prove to be guilty.
Since that fateful morning of 16 May 2008, when Aarushi and Hemraj were found dead in a Noida apartment, there have been numerous flip-flops, leading to an ever-changing cast of suspects, accused, guilty and, finally, a string of acquittals — starting with Rajesh Talwars assistant Krishna and two domestic helps — Rajkumar and Vijay — and ending with the parents.
The denouement of the case is absolutely shocking. In spite of throwing the best agencies and investigators into the case, a murder that happened in an apartment — not, mind you, in some remote corner of India — in the National Capital Region has not been cracked. This when the number of suspects, the possible permutations and combinations, and the motive could have been limited.
Every agency involved in the investigation and trial is guilty, either completely or partially. Both the probe and the trial were a complete mess, dictated more by the desire to play to the gallery and satiate the collective conscience of the nation demanding speedy justice and a scapegoat than by the basic tenets of investigation and jurisprudence. It is a sad commentary on the state of affairs that every agency involved in the case ended up contradicting itself, arriving at different conclusions based on the same set of evidence and circumstances. The most hilarious is the case of the CBI, whose two teams found two different sets of convicts.
First, the Noida Police botched up the probe because of its inability to secure the crime scene. Such was its lack of competence that the cops failed to find Hemraj's body even a day after the murder even when it was lying on the terrace. Even an amateur would have started the investigation by scouring the crime scene, but somehow the Uttar Pradesh Police couldn't get even the basics right.
Then, as the sensational crime caught the fancy of the nation, the cops allowed the site of the murder to turn into a tourism spot for friends and family of the Talwars and journalists eager to crack the case open before the cops could find the first clues. Knowing the state of our cops, it is entirely possible that this criminal defilement of the site was either part of a conspiracy to erase vital clues or just another example of its systemic incompetence.
By the time the CBI was called in to investigate — a full month after the Uttar Pradesh cops had botched it up — there was scarcely any evidence left to decipher the mystery. To complicate the mess, the agency couldn't make up its mind whether the real culprits were Krishna and the two domestic helps or the parents. In the end, it ended up hauling everybody linked to the crime to the court on the basis of flimsy evidence, leading to miscarriage of justice. In the end, there were more questions than answers.
The special CBI court that found the Talwars guilty — a verdict that was reversed by the Allahabad High Court on Thursday — also went by the desire to pander to the public opinion instead of taking a measured view of the evidence available. It made the cardinal mistake of trying a case in which the investigating agency had recommended closure because of lack of evidence. It is a travesty of justice that the Talwars were found guilty by the court even when the agency that probed the case was not sure if it had enough evidence to establish their guilt. Obviously, the court was influenced the public perception and cries for "justice to Aarushi" at all costs.
It isn't surprising that the Talwars have been acquitted, at least till the Supreme Court has its say. This was bound to happen as the justice system works on the principle that one innocent should not be wrongly punished even if 100 criminals are let off in the process. The guilty — the assistant, the domestic helps or the parents — may have indeed been produced before the court, but they could not be punished because the investigators could not find sufficient evidence.
This is indeed a shocking indictment of our investigating agencies and the justice system.
Updated Date: Oct 12, 2017 21:50 PM