Talwars on trial

The trial of Nupur and Rajesh Talwar for the murder of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj has begun. Their repeated attempts to avoid being tried for the sensational double murder and for destruction of evidence came to naught when the Supreme Court dismissed a review petition filed by Nupur challenging summons issued by the Special CBI court in the case. It warned her of ‘exemplary costs’ for any ‘frivolous’ litigation. Since May 2008 when the murder took place the case has gone through many twists and turns. The needle of suspicion has pointed in different directions over the past four years and several of the key personae in the tragic drama, including Rajesh Talwar and his assistants have been summoned for questioning, arrested and then released. At one point the CBI even filed a closure report, claiming that while Rajesh was the prime suspect it didn’t have evidence to nail him. The case was subsequently reopened and since then the Talwars have been the focus. The couple has repeatedly appealed to higher courts to avoid trial and sought bail to stay out of jail. There have been whispers of the Talwars using their clout and connections to influence the investigation. Nupur’s emotional appeals to the courts drawing attention to her suffering as the victim’s mother have failed to stir the court. At best, the couple has been able to delay the judicial process not stop it.

The media’s coverage of the Aarushi-Hemraj case has been relentless, intrusive and excessive. It would not be wrong to say that it has acted as investigator, judge and jury in the case, declaring each one of the characters guilty in turn. Much of the discussion so far regarding the case has been coloured by class bias, ethnic prejudice and gender stereotyping. Nupur, not being the plump, pitiable, weepy mother we want her to be, has been excoriated in the media. Rajesh’s assistant Krishna, who is a Nepali migrant, evoked in us our worst class and ethnic biases. This trial by media must stop. It must step aside and allow the courts to do their job of trying the Talwars.

If the Talwars are guilty, it is the job of the court to say so after putting them through a fair trial and through the due process of the law. Convictions must come based on solid evidence and not because sections of the media and the public want to see them punished.

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