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Dr. Mrs. Nupur Talwar v. State of UP & Anr (2017)

Introduction

Case Name

Dr. Mrs. Nupur Talwar v. State of UP &Anr. (2017)

Citation

(1984) 2 SCC 627

Bench

Bala Krishna Narayana, Arvind Kumar Mishra-I

PARTIES

The parties involved were Dr. Mrs. Nupur Talwar as the petitioner and the State of UP & Anr as the respondent.

FACTS

On the morning of 16 May 2008, fourteen-year-old Aarushi Talwar was found murdered in the bedroom of her house in Jal Vayu Vihar, Noida. Her throat was slit and her head bludgeoned. The servant of the family, Hemraj Banjade, was missing since the time of the murder. So, the suspicion of the murder of Aarushi Talwar was on Hemaraj Banjade. But the twist in the case arises when the very next day Hemraj Banjade was found dead on the terrace of the house. His throat was also slit and he suffered injuries to his head. It was a double murder case. The police suspected that when the crime happened there was no person other than Aarushi talwar’s parents namely Dr. Rajesh Talwar and Dr. Mrs. Nupur Talwar. Prima facie, the case appeared to be a case of honour killing and Dr. Rajesh Talwar, Aarushi’s father was arrested for double murders. The police said that the Rajesh had murdered both finding them in an “objectionable position.” The case was then transferred to CBI. But CBI was accused of using harsh and illegal methods to extract a confession and based on the Narco test CBI exculpated that the assistant of talwar named Krishna along with other two former servants Rajkumar and Vijay murdered Aarushi after striving sexual strike and Hemraj for taking the stand of Aarushi. But these three were emancipated as there was no valid evidence against them.

CBI then suspected the Parents of a double murder case. However, Rajesh Talwar was released after inconclusive evidence. CBI handed over the case to the new investigation team; CBI Judge held talwar guilty of murder and also charged the allegation of the destruction of shreds of evidence from the crime scene. CBI court gave life imprisonment to the talwar. But this guilty verdict was based purely on circumstantial evidence. The prosecution argued as there was no proof of anyone from outside entering the locked house only the parents who were already there. But the Allahabad High Court said that was not enough and gave them the benefit of doubt.    Later, CBI submitted a closure report due to a lack of evidence and critical gaps in the investigation. The court refused to close the case. Contending the suspicion of the CBI on Dr. Rajesh Talwar, the court instructed the proceedings against the family and sentenced life imprisonment for Mr. and Mrs. Talwar. The order was challenged before Allahabad High Court and then they were acquitted by Court.

Issues Involved in the case

  • Whether the Investigation conducted by the Investigation agency was questionable?
  • Whether the issue of the process by the Magistrate under section 204 of CRPC[1] was valid, after the CBI in its end report prayed for the closure of the case?
  • Whether Narco – tests are admissible under the court?
  • Whether a crime can be established without mens rea​ or motive?

HOLDING

The Court acquitted the parents of Aarushi Talwar giving them the benefit of doubt. The prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence and the police, CBI was severely criticized for not having investigated the murder properly.

RATIO DECIDENDI

  1. The Investigation conducted by CBI as well as Police remains under question. The shreds of evidence of the case were played on the hands of police and CBI. The Investigating agencies remain unsuccessful in generating substantial evidence of the case. The base of the case was purely based on circumstantial pieces of evidence. The main question that arises is that after the death of Aarushi Talwar when the domestic servant Hemraj was missing, why didn’t the police search for him on the terrace. The police never got around to answering that question. Infect, the entire investigation was botched up by police. Uttar Pradesh police and even journalist had contaminated the entire scene. Forensic evidence was reduced to a joke. After scrutinizing the facts as well as circumstances of the case, it can be said that the special court of CBI, as well as the police, was unable to solve the mystery of the case since the explicit chain of the events of the case was not entrenched by investigating agencies.

The Media trials were made and no restriction was imposed on media to enter the crime area, the area of crime was not seized. The journalists were allowed to walk over the terrace and contaminate the shreds of evidence. These all show the reckless attitude of the police towards the investigation. It has been a decade many investigation agencies and trials took place but the case remains unsolved.

  1. Under Article 204 of the code of criminal procedure[2], Magistrate can take cognizance of an offence and ask for investigation when he is that sufficient ground for proceeding doesn’t exist. However, the Magistrate who issued the summoning order passed a reasoned order. The magistrate has to form an opinion that there was sufficient ground for proceeding and a reasonable justification for the proceeding had to be given. The magistrate had to fulfil the entire statutory obligation by conducting sufficient ground of proceeding.
  • Narco tests were conducted on the servants namely Krishna, Rajkumar and Vijay as well as the Parents of Aarushi Talwar. In the Narco test, certain kinds of drugs are given and under the influence of which it is assumed that a person speaks the truth. These drugs cause no harm to the body. The Narco analysis test of the parents of Aarushi talwar proved that they were not involved in the crime. Based on narco tests conducted, the CBI assumed that servants have killed Aarushi after an attempt to sexual assault, and killed Hemraj because he was a witness. Narco test also confirmed that they were with Hemraj sharing their drink with them. The narco analysis test of Krishna Thandarai in which he admitted that he was present in the talwar’s residence on the night of the crime. This fact was ignored and the CBI court refused to accept the narco tests of servants as the form of evidence and stated that the Narco test can’t be taken as proof in court. Later, CBI gives clean chit to the servants and the parents remain the prime suspects.
  1. Mens rea means the motive of the person behind the murder. It is an essential element of any crime that takes place.

The prime suspect in the murder was Mr. Rajesh Talwar and Mrs. Nupur Talwar. However, the prosecution cannot prove the motive of the parents to kill their daughter. And all the motives or reasons that have been provided were all based on circumstantial pieces of evidence and no proof can be provided for the same. The prosecution put forward a hypothesis situation that the parents found Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj in an objectionable situation and killed them. However, no pieces of evidence or contention have been put forward by the investigation agencies supporting their contention.   Other suspects were the servants Krishna Thandarai, Rajkumar and Vijay. According to investigation agencies, these servants sexually assaulted Aarushi talwar but the Hemraj being the witness killed him. But again no proof and evidence were supporting this. In this, the Narco analytics test, clearly points out that they were present in the house of talwars on the night of the murder. Even when they don’t live there and further on the bottle of the drinks that were found near the body of Hemraj have fingerprints on them. There were also allegations that on the day of the crime, all three had a drink along with Hemraj.

COMMENTARY

Aarushi Talwar murder case is an open-ended case. It is also a big question mark on the police, CBI and other authorities that were involved in the case. The shreds of evidence and facts of the case were ruined and moulted according to the hypothesis made by the investigation agencies. The parents of Aarushi Talwar were forced to live in jail for four long years. It is famously said that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. This is what happened in this case. The parents of Aarushi Talwar were sent to imprisonment based on circumstantial pieces of evidence. There was no proof that they committed the murder but no justice was given to them. And last, the case got closed. But this was not the end, the question remains unanswered “Who killed Aarushi and Hemraj?

Author(s) Name: Gunjan Khandelwal (University Five Year Law College, Rajasthan University)

References:

[1] The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973, s.204

[2] The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973, s.204