Parents win murder appeal in case that divided India

The Allahabad High Court acquitted dentists Rajesh and Nupur Talwar after ruling that there was insufficient proof that they slit the throats of their 14-year-old daughter and Nepalese servant in May 2008.
The Allahabad High Court acquitted dentists Rajesh and Nupur Talwar after ruling that there was insufficient proof that they slit the throats of their 14-year-old daughter and Nepalese servant in May 2008.PHOTO: REUTERS

ALLAHABAD (India) • An affluent Indian couple yesterday won their appeal against life imprisonment for the murder of their daughter and a servant in the latest sensational twist in a case that has divided the nation, as well as inspired a movie and a book.

The Allahabad High Court acquitted dentists Rajesh and Nupur Talwar after ruling that there was insufficient proof that they slit the throats of their 14-year-old daughter, Aarushi, and Nepalese servant Hemraj Banjade in May 2008.

The couple, who are in jail near New Delhi, were not in the packed court for the hearing.

Mr Tanveer Mir, a lawyer for the Talwars, told reporters outside the Allahabad court that the couple would be freed today.

"The High Court observed that they have been punished wrongly. They are not guilty," he said.

India has been riveted by the case since the first details of the double murder in the affluent New Delhi suburb of Noida emerged.

The Talwars were convicted by a lower court in 2013 and sentenced to life in prison.

The couple had always denied carrying out the killings, insisting that they are victims of police incompetence and a media witch hunt.

Aarushi, their only child, was found on her bed in a pool of blood on the morning of May 16, 2008.

Her successful middle-class parents told police that they were asleep in the next room when the murder was committed.

Police initially blamed the missing servant Banjade, but found his body a day later with a similarly cut throat and head wounds.

Investigators then said the Talwars killed Aarushi in a fit of rage after finding her with the 45-year-old servant in an "objectionable position", suggesting that the double murder was an honour killing.

The prosecution in 2013 admitted that there was no material evidence against the parents, basing its case on the "last-seen theory", which holds that the victims were last seen with the accused.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2017, with the headline 'Parents win murder appeal in case that divided India'. Print Edition | Subscribe