On Thursday, the Allahabad High Court pronounced its judgement on the 2008 Aarushi Talwar murder case.
The bench comprising BK Narayana and AK Mishra acquitted Aarushi's dentist parents Nupur and Rajesh Talwar who were convicted for the murder of their 14-year-old daughter and domestic help Hemraj by a special CBI court in 2013.
Rajesh and Nupur's involvement in the crime has been oscillating from being innocents to guilty and now back to being innocents over the long period of investigation that changed a lot of hands in the last nine years.
The Allahabad High Court observed that no conviction can stand on the basis of mere suspicion and the CBI failed to prove without reasonable doubt that the Talwars were guilty of the double murder.
The Talwars will see this acquittal as a vindication for their claims of being innocent, especially after their widely showcased trial by the media.
With the Talwars being released and reports of CBI planning to move the Supreme Court against the decision, it brings to the fore an important question.
If not the Talwars, who killed Aarushi and Hemraj?
On 16 May 2008, the murder of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar shook the country with the sheer nature of the crime and the suspicion was cast on Hemraj, the servant of the Talwars who was missing.
When the body of Hemraj was found a day later with injuries similar to those found in Aarushi, the Noida police had to rework their angle of investigation and after a week, ut arrested Rajesh for the double murder.
The CBI then took charge of the investigation and first brought Rajesh's assistant Krishna into the realm of suspicion after conducting a narco-analysis.
Following the arrest of Krishna and searching the rooms of Hemraj and Krishna, the CBI rounded in on two more suspects — Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal.
While Rajkumar worked in the house of the Durranis, close friends of the Talwars, Vijay, worked for Puneesh Tandon, the neighbour of Talwars.
A 'khukri' and a blood-stained pillow cover recovered from Krishna's room confirmed the suspicions of the presiding CBI officer DIG Arun Kumar that he was involved in the crime.
Further confirmation was made with the forensics test attributing the blood in the pillow cover to Hemraj.
However, a change in the investigating officers and the post-mortem examining doctor changing his findings brought the spotlight back on the Talwars.
Though, the initial post-mortem report referred to a 'Khukri-like' instrument as the murder weapon, further examination pointed to a sharp-edged light instrument being the weapon which was wielded with a 'surgical' precision.
This statement by the doctor and honour killing being ascertained as the motive, the suspicion now rested squarely on Rajesh and other evidence collected in the course of investigation led to his and Nupur Talwar's conviction by the special CBI court in 2013.
However, it is noteworthy that though CBI's initial investigation pointed fingers at Krishna, Vijay and Rajkumar, all three were let off the hook in the subsequent investigation by the CBI under a different investigating officer.
However, it was not just the narco-analysis of Krishna, Vijay and Rajkumar, which was 'inadmissible evidence' in the court of law, that led Kumar to Krishna, a compounder in Rajesh's clinic. In a 2008 interview, Kumar said that it was Krishna's stories about Aarushi and Hemraj that led the investigation off the track.
Kumar, in that interview, had also asserted that the psychoanalysis of Krishna led to a lot of revelations including the fact that he had Hemraj's phone in his possession.
The CBI officer also believed that the murder was a sexual assault attempt gone wrong.
Though the narco-analysis transcripts were not released then, journalist Avirook Sen's tell-all book on the Aarushi murder investigation made these transcripts public for the first time.
In Rajkumar's narco-analysis, he is said to have spoken about his love for Aarushi and also confessed to drinking with Krishna and Vijay on that fateful night. He is also said to have provided clear details on the trio sexually assaulting Aarushi, after which, both Hemraj and Aarushi were murdered.
Vijay's narco test gave a different account as compared to Krishna and Rajkumar but corroborated their story of Aarushi and Hemraj being killed in their presence.
From talking about a blood-stained knife to revealing Rajkumar's liking for Aarushi and the subsequent assault and murder of the 14-year-old and Hemraj, the narco-analyses is said to have provided enough evidence for the CBI to zero in on them as the culprits in the horrific murder that shook the nation on a Friday morning in 2008.
However, when Kumar was replaced by AGL Kaul as the investigating officer, the three suspects were let off the hook and the investigations took a different turn altogether coming to an end with the conviction of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar and the special CBI court sentencing them with a life term.
From widespread accusations that the initial investigation by the Noida police was patchy and two opposing arguments by a single agency, a lot has clearly not gone right in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder investigation.
Nevertheless, with the recent developments in the case and the Talwars getting acquitted by the Allahabad High Court, the most important question rears its head once again.
Who killed Aarushi Talwar?
Updated Date: Oct 13, 2017 08:29 AM