The Allahabad high court has chastised the trial court judge for telling a “different story” propelled by “vitriolic” reasoning convicting dentist couple Nupur and Rajesh Talwar in the murders of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj in May 2008.
Additional Sessions Judge Shyam Lal in Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) had sentenced the Talwars to life imprisonment on November 28, 2013, holding them guilty in the twin murder case.
Allowing the appeals of the Talwars against the Central Bureau of Investigation court order, Justices B K Narayana and A K Mishra of the Allahabad high court on Thursdau acquitted the couple, saying that neither the circumstances nor the evidence was enough to hold them guilty.
In “absolute agreement” with Justice Narayana in giving the Talwars the benefit of doubt, Justice Mishra said, “The learned trial Judge has prejudged things in his own fashion, drawn conclusion by embarking on erroneous analogy conjecturing to the brim on apparent facts telling a different story propelled by vitriolic reasoning.
“Thus, basing the finding of conviction without caring to see that it being a case based on circumstantial evidence things cannot be presumed and stuffed in a manner like the present one by adhering to self-created postulates then to roam inside the circle with all fanciful whim,” he said.
Writing his own 10-page judgment in the 273-page verdict, Justice Mishra said, “The learned trial Judge took evidence and the circumstances of the case for granted and tried to solve it like a mathematical puzzle when one solves a given question and then takes something for granted in order to solve that puzzle and question.”
In strong remarks, he said that the trial court could not act like a maths teacher who was solving a mathematical question by analogy after taking certain figure for granted.
“In all criminal trials, analogies must be drawn and confined within the domain and realm of the evidence, facts and circumstances on record and any analogy which brings facts, circumstances and evidence so placed in certain domain outside the periphery of that domain then that would be a case of certain aberration deviating from the main path,” the high court judge said.
Justice Mishra held, “That way, the learned trial Judge has aberrated and by dint of fallacious analogy and reasoning has surprisingly assumed fictional animation of the incident as to what actually took place inside and outside the Flat L 32 Jalvayu Vihar and in what manner he has tried to give live and colourful description of the incident in question.
“… And the whole genesis of the offence was grounded on fact that both the deceased Hemraj and Arushi were seen by Dr Rajesh Talwar in fla-grante and thereafter like a film director, the trial Judge has tried to thrust coherence amongst facts inalienably scattered here and there but not giving any coherence to the idea as to what in fact happened.”
Justice Mishra said the additional sessions judge “forgot as to what is issue in hand. He forgot to travel in and around theme of the charge framed by him against the appellants. It is admitted position to both the sides that no one in fact knew as to what happened.”
He said it might be a guess work as to how and in what manner things happened, but to base the entire reasoning solely on “guess work” and give concrete shape to such assumption and then to construe facts and circumstances of the case falling in line with the evidence on record appears to be a “futile attempt which attempt altogether acts like a paradox”.
“Certainly such recalcitrant mindset in interpreting facts vis-a-vis circumstances of the case and evaluation of evidence ought to have been shunned. Consideration of merit should be based only on evidence and circumstances apparent on record, crystallizing the truth in substance and alluding to certainty of decision, backed up by reasonable analogy and scrutiny by the trial Judge as that alone would always be the best approach while deciding a criminal trial,” he said.
Justice Mishra said it was apparent that the trial judge was “unmindful” of the basic tenets of law and its applicability to the given facts and circumstances of the case and “failed” to properly appraise facts and evaluate evidence and analyse various circumstances of this case.
“It can by no means be denied that the trial Judge, perhaps out of extra zeal and enthusiasm and on the basis of self perception adopted partial and parochial approach in giving vent to his own emotional belief and conviction and thus tried to give concrete shape to his own imagination stripped of just evaluation of evidence and facts of this case,” he said in his 10-page order.
Justice Mishra said while appreciating evidence vis-à-vis facts, it was incumbent on the trial court to have angled things from a common platform and would not have deviated from that platform as and when the evidence took another turn.
“May be, that the witnesses of fact testified one way and may be that the Investigating Officer conducted the investigation other way but unnecessarily coherence should not be brought in between the two incongruous objectives as that would be a fallacy which the trial Judge has committed in this case,” he said.
“Pointer is that the trial Judge should evaluate evidence in its existing form, should not tinge it with his passionate reasoning so as to give a different construction than the one which is naturally reflected and forthcoming. Caution enjoins on the trial Judge that he should exercise self-restraint from deliberately twisting facts in arbitrary manner and should refrain from recording finding on strength of wrong premise by virulent and meandering reasoning,” he said.
Justice Mishra said the entire judgment was on the whole creation of “fanciful reasoning with pick and choose presuming facts with indomitable obstinancy and taking things for granted, thus, basing conclusion on unfounded evidence.
“The trial Judge is supposed to be fair and transparent and should act as a man of ordinary prudence and he should not stretch his imagination to infinity rendering the whole exercise mockery of law,” he said.
He remarked, “Needless to say that in such sensitive cases, the trial Judge should act with utmost circumspection and caution. But certain norms should be kept in mind by the trial Judge while he is deciding any criminal case:
(1) The parochial and narrow approach to the facts and evidence should be avoided and evidence of a particular case has to be read and construed on its face value in line with the statutory requirement.
“(2) The passionate and rash reasoning should not be the guiding factor while scrutinizing evidence, facts and circumstances of a criminal case.
“(3) The self-perception and realm should not be reflected on analogy of the facts and evidence on record.
“(4) The judgment should not be based on self-created postulates.
“(5) The imagination should not be given a concrete form and transparency of approach must be reflected in the judgment,” he said.
Justice Mishra held it appeared that the trial court was “unaware” of the solemn duty cast by the law as the judge and dealt with the entire case “in style. A finesse”.”
Fourteen-year-old Aarushi was found dead inside her room in the Talwars’ Noida residence with her throat slit in May 2008. The suspicion initially fell on 45-year-old Hemraj, who at the time was missing. But his body was recovered from the terrace of the house a day later.