Aarushi Murder Case: Why Police Investigation in India is inefficient?

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One of the India’s biggest murder mystery Aarushi- Hemraj murder case, where 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar was murdered on 15 May 2008, sustaining injuries on her forehead and throat was slit with surgical precision.[1] Two days later, the prime suspect, Hemraj Banjade, their domestic help, was found dead on the terrace.

The day on which Aarushi’s murder came to light (16 May 2008), then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi were scheduled to visit communist leader Harkishan Singh at Hospital in Noida’s Sector-11. Noida police, everyone from the SSP to local thana officials were on VIP duty.  The problem with UP Police is the responsibility for both maintaining law and order and investigations is given to the same officers. [2]

On call from murder scene, only the chowki in charge and one or two hawaldaars got to the scene. When the incident caught media attention, the SO and IPS officer made their way to the scene. No other senior officer was called or given a chance at conducting a detailed investigation.[3]

Image result for aarushi murder caseMr. and Mrs. Talwar. They were recently acquitted by the Allahabad High Court.

At any crime scene, looking at every angle and investigating all possibilities is a must.  A search at the house and surrounding areas[4] was never done. Their domestic servant Hemraj was missing, so it was concluded that he must be the murderer. To search for him, a police team was sent all the way to Nepal apart from Noida and Delhi. Post-mortem reports proved that Hemraj had not eaten on the night of the incident. A search of the suspect’s room is mandatory, which was not done. If that had been done, the discovery of his untouched dinner and the empty glasses and alcohol bottles in his room would have raised questions with regard to his involvement in a conspiracy.[5]

When case was handed over to CBI, it was found by the first investigating team of the CBI that the servants, Krishna, Vijay and Rajkumar, were guilty of the crime and arrested them. The surgical precision was claimed to be the murder weapon, CBI never seized any of the dental equipments used in Talwar’s clinic.[6] Due to lack of evidence, Rajesh Talwar was granted bail in July 2008. In 2010 the parents had challenged the CBI closure report and asked for re- investigation but instead of re-investigation, summons was issued by magistrate and the case went to trial in February 2012 and the Talwars were convicted ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ for murders and destruction of evidence in 2013.[7]  The trial court without looking at the omission on part of investigating team, based the conviction only looking at the fact that in a house where there were four people, due to no evidence of outside intrusion, the two dead were killed by the two alive.

On 12 October, 2017 bench of Justice BK Narayana and AK Mishra at Allahabad High Court set aside the conviction and acquitted the Talwars of murder charges by giving the “benefit of doubt” on ground of insufficient and inconclusive circumstantial evidence.[8] High Court ended up questioning the CBI investigation, pointing out several commissions and omissions on the part of the UP Police, CBI and the trial court.

Justice Narayana citing a Supreme Court order of 1963 held that in special relevance to criminal cases if the circumstances proved in the case are consistent either with the innocence of the accused or with his guilt, then the accused is entitled to the benefit of doubt. By the evidence produced in this case, two views are possible, one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, benefit of doubt must be given to the accused.[9]

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Conclusion:

The question of murderer remains, after the release of Talwars. If they are not the murderer, then what about the sentence they served? Section 358 of Code of criminal procedure, 1973 provides for compensation of maximum one thousand Rupees to persons groundlessly arrested. Question arises, if this compensation amount is sufficient to compensate the loss suffered by Talwars?

If proper investigation procedure would have been followed, injustice would have not been caused to Talwars. Expert opinion[10] (narcotics test) could have been resorted to when evidences were deficient,[11] resulting in release of Talwars and avoiding miscarriage of justice.

There is need to focus on the training of police and judicial officers to be prudent and professional. Separate teams for law and order and investigation in UP, would have lead to focus solely on the murder investigation and not on VIP duty.

There had been blood on the stair railings leading to the roof, help from a dog squad led them to the roof of the Talwar’s house, and where they would have found Hemraj’s body as dogs would easily have followed it.

Nine years later, still this case remains a mystery. Even now, if these systemic changes are made within the UP Police, future cases like this will get solved with ease.

Author: Namrta

You can reach author at: namrta.9809@gmail.com

Namrta graduated from National Law Institute University, Bhopal. Currently, she is pursuing LLM from the same university. She works as a content writer for TA.

Endnotes: 

[1]http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/aarushi-hemraj-murder-case-allahabad-hc-acquits-nupur-and-rajesh-talwar/story-aIroVYkZChsRdBx2YmEfEP.html

[2] https://www.thequint.com/voices/blogs/aarushi-murder-case-could-have-been-solved-in-under-12-hours

[3] Section 157 (1) of code of criminal procedure code,1973 (CrPC)

[4] Section 165(1) of CrPC

[5] https://www.thequint.com/voices/blogs/aarushi-murder-case-could-have-been-solved-in-under-12-hours

[6]http://indianexpress.com/article/india/nine-years-on-many-unanswered-questions-in-aarushi-talwar-hemraj-murder-case-allahabad-hc-verdict-4886372/

[7] https://www.thequint.com/news/india/the-curious-case-of-narco-tests-in-aarushi-hemraj-murder-mystery

[8]http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/aarushi-hemraj-murder-case-allahabad-hc-acquits-nupur-and-rajesh-talwar/story-aIroVYkZChsRdBx2YmEfEP.html

[9]http://indianexpress.com/article/india/2008-aarushi-murder-case-allahabad-high-court-acquits-talwars-4886927/

[10] Section 45 of Indian evidence Act, 1872

[11] Section 169 of CrPC.

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