Aarushi murder verdict: From calling an end to TV studio trials to flaying CBI for shoddy probe, here's how media covered it

The Aarushi Talwar- Hemraj murder case has been sensationalised not just because of the tardy and botched-up police investigation but also because of the involvement of media. News reports tarnished the image of Nupur and Rajesh Talwar by reporting wrong or half-baked news. The Supreme Court had also called out the media for acting as a super investigating agency in the murder case in 2008, The Hindu reported.

"Irretrievable damage has been done to the couple, who lost their only child. This is unthinkable in a democracy," Justice GS Singhvi had said.

Friends and relatives of Aarushi Talwar light candles near her portrait. PTI

Friends and relatives of Aarushi Talwar light candles near her portrait. PTI

It, therefore, becomes pertinent to look at how the acquittal of the Talwars by the Allahabad High Court on Thursday was covered by some media outlets.

An editorial in NDTV asked the media to accept the blame for crossing all boundaries in this murder case. The piece argued that justice has not been done fully not just because it could not be conclusively established who the murderer was but also because we continue to enable more murders. The editorial also pointed out that the media and the police carelessly walked over the entire crime scene, irreparably damaging crucial evidence that could have helped in solving the murder mystery.

It called on media for being hell-bent on reducing a tragedy into an ugly and sensational drama. It urged media outlets to sit up and reflect on how many lives they are willing to ruin and how many people they are willing to subject to humiliation for TRPs.

"They also need to wonder if turning people into voyeurs is in turn affecting press freedom."

No media outlet has shied away from calling out their rivals (without naming) for the sensational coverage of the case. DNA, while also blaming the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the shoddy investigation, said that Talwars became a punching bag for the media.

"The couple, varyingly through the media’s lens, were child murderers, adulterers, wife-swappers, cold-blooded sociopaths... The CBI wasn’t far behind."

The editorial flayed the organisation for its "shoddy, motivated and suspiciously perverted probe" that protracted the case and managed to scuttle the ends of justice. It also hailed the Allahabad High Court's verdict for highlighting that the CBI, often identified as India's premier investigation agency, does not deserve that descriptor.

The editorial also expressed fear that justice may elude the common man, in view of the CBI's investigation. "If such horror-of-an-investigation can be inflicted on the Talwar couple — a couple with the means to hire best legal brains — then one can very well imagine the plight of those who are innocent and impoverished."

Speaking in favour of the verdict and the Talwars, the editorial pointed out that even if the CBI chooses not to pursue an appeal in the apex court, the punishment has already been delivered to the Talwars.

An opinion piece in The Quint also called for ending media trials. "Even before clinching evidence was in place, my fellow journalists pronounced the verdict on the basis of some leads, and so-called confidential information from what we call 'impeccable sources,' wrote Mayank Sharma. The Talwars, he said, were pronounced guilty even before the CBI court did so.

Hindustan Times pointed out the inevitable scenario in the murder case after the Allahabad High Court's verdict. "The Talwars are free, for now." The "for now" is important in this case because even as everyone is celebrating the triumph of justice and acquittal of the parents, the CBI court is mulling its next move. It is likely that the investigation agency will move the Supreme Court against the acquittal.

Updated Date: Oct 13, 2017 19:50 PM

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