Hanan Zaffar talks to Tanveer Mir , the defence counsel of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar after he successfully revoked their life imprisonment in the Allahabad High Court.
There is a wide notion that the verdict on Talwars is based on ‘benefit of doubt’ rather than innocence. How would you respond to it?
This is completely incorrect. Nowhere in the judgement is it written that they were exonerated on the basis of benefit of doubt, but it is a clear cut acquittal along with a very serious finding of false deliberate implication by CBI.
You have many a times said that there was a witch-hunt against Talwars by CBI. Why would CBI even do that?
That is a question which only CBI can answer.
So are you questioning the credibility of a premier investigation agency like CBI?
See witch-hunt is not done by the whole body , but certain investigating officers. You need to look at couple of paragraphs of the judgement passed by Allahabad High Court to get insights as to how it was done. Paragraph 224 clearly states that the cross examination of the witness STR Prasad from CDFD Hyderabad has been reproduced. This witness has admitted that all exhibits examined by him had been sealed by him and then send to CBI, but all of his exhibits were torn open when they were shown in the court. Similarly page 239 of the judgement is a tabular chart which shows case property was tempered by CBI to the detriment of accused persons and my clients.
Two days after the judgement was passed , an important witness of the case Dr. Naresh Raj in an interview to Times of India openly admitted that investigating authorities forced him to give statements against my clients.
You have time and again specifically questioned investigating officer Mr. Koul’s methods and accused him of personal agenda against Talwars . Where does personal agenda come into this?
It happens. Hundreds of times it happens. After-all we Indians still suffer from imperialistic hangovers. Many people in government service , whether they are in police or administration consider themselves as God, and if you have a skirmish with a government servant he will ruin you. The problem between Mr. AGL Kaul and Talwars got on a personal level as Mr. Kaul and his team would continuously say to Talwars that you have done it and you must admit.The Talwars in return would give a staunch defiance full of aggression stemming purely out of innocence.
The problem with Mr. Kaul’s approach was that he first set up the accused in his mind and then went on a process to somehow prove his claims My client’s were first considered convicts and then whole investigation was done in a bid to prove it, according to what we call as ‘fitment theory’.
Why couldn’t sessions court earlier come to the same conclusion?
See, even in the trial court before the sessions judge I had produced the same arguments. But the Hon’ble Judge didn’t take into account the cross examinations. In order to pass a judgement against the accused, there is an obligation on the judge to consider both, the examination in chief as well as cross examination. Even the countries which are not democracies like Saudi Arabia ,you have the right to question allegations levelled against the accused. This is a fundamental right and goes along with the presumption of innocence. But Judge Shyam Lal didn’t follow the procedure in trial court and we got an erroneous judgement, which was ultimately set aside by the Allahabad High Court.
Also this judgement has made it clear that in India, the Allahabad High Court is second to none when it comes to delivery of justice without ‘fear’ or favour. By fear I mean that if the High Court comes to the conclusion that a particular investigation agency has committed serious illegalities and rather than going on the quest of truth it has gone on a path of vengeance, by falsely implicating and procuring statements, to set up and suit a particular theory, then the court will not desist in taking such an agency to the cleaners. This is why we have such strong strictures against the CBI in this judgement which is unparalleled in independent India.
How can a system go so wrong? We have innocent parents being falsely accused of killing their daughter and by the time their innocence is proven, they have already ended up being 4 years in jail.
Flaws in the system exist all over the world and India is no exception to this. You can get erroneous judgements in the best of democracies, with latest methods of investigation because there is ultimately a lot of human element going into it. One judge may agree and other may disagree. The question is whether you are writing a conviction and supporting it with good reasons or you are going for an approach which is unbalanced. And that is why an unbalanced ruling got smashed to smithereens in the High Court.
There are reports of Hemraj’s family approaching the Supreme Court for an appeal. How would you see this development?
Hemraj’s family or CBI approaching Supreme Court neither bothers me nor my clients. Ultimately any person who disagrees with any judgement or order has a right to appeal or seek remedial action. Anybody doing so is more than welcome. If the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India entertains and issues a notice to us then my clients will appear and we will contest their claims again. I don’t see any issue with it.
Your relations with Talwars are said to be beyond a lawyer-client relationship. Are you in touch with them post acquittal? How do they plan to move on?
We had a very brief chat after they were released. Although easier said than done but I told them to start afresh. Certainly client- attorney relationship sometimes gets very close. In 2012-13 we used to spend a lot of time together preparing for the case. All three of us used to work together and notwithstanding the result we did some quality work in the trial court. You don’t win criminal cases in appeals. You win them in trial courts. This is also very important for budding lawyers. If you do quality work in a trial court, you are bound to win the case, either in the trial court itself or in the court above.
Even though Talwars now stand acquitted but it is still a pertinent question – So who killed Aarushi ?
See, that is what CBI and Noida Police have failed to answer. Had Noida Police conducted any substantial investigation or managed to protect crime scene, maybe we would have got answers. But they were more interested in solving the case by hook or crook, even if meant framing people falsely. Instead of calling forensic experts from Delhi or Agra police allowed pedestrians to destroy crime scene. They were neither interested nor capable of solving the case.
Conducting investigation was not the priority of police officials but they were fighting with each other as to who will attend the press conference. Gurdarshan Singh came running like PT Usha from Meerut to give a press conference.