Authors: Avirook Sen
Tags: #Non-Fiction, #True Crime, #Essays, #India
Nothing that Kaul had said so far had made it any clearer—he hadn’t even speculated about how the actual assaults took place. Mir wanted to keep it that way. He went at Kaul from different angles.
Kaul had told the court that a report from the CFSL:
indicated that two golf sticks were cleaner than the others. Out of these two golf sticks, the dimensions of one golf stick was matching with the blunt injuries . . .
Experts had examined the golf club bearing no. 5 and measured the size of the striking surface as 8 cm and on this basis, I had stated in my report that the injuries on the heads of both the deceased had been caused by golf club no. 5.
The testimonies of the post-mortem doctors had already established that Kaul hadn’t sent the clubs to them for an opinion on whether one of them could have caused an injury and he admitted that it was ‘nowhere mentioned by the post-mortem doctor [in the post-mortem report] that the injury was V-shaped or U-shaped [triangular]’.
The CFSL hadn’t offered any opinion on the matter either: the lab’s report merely measured the clubs, and, in the process of looking for DNA or blood, found that two—a wood and a 4 iron—appeared to have less dirt than the others.
But all along, and even during his testimony, Kaul had pointed to the ‘cleaner’ 5 iron as the murder weapon. Mir wanted him to confirm this yet again; he suggested Kaul had been wrong about both the number and the physical state of the specific golf club that was the purported murder weapon. Kaul replied: ‘It is incorrect to suggest that in my final report I had wrongly written that scientists after examination found that golf stick no. 3 [the wood] and golf stick no. 5 were cleaned completely and because of this compared to the other golf clubs they looked very different.’
The sum of this was: if at all a golf club was used as a weapon, it wasn’t the one that was allegedly cleaned.
Kaul faced more questions about the golf clubs. In the July 2008 AIIMS report, both post-mortem doctors had endorsed a khukri as a murder weapon in writing. In September 2009, Aarushi’s post-mortem doctor, Sunil Dohare—without having seen the clubs—had told Kaul that Aarushi’s head injuries were V- or U-shaped, and that a golf club was capable of inflicting them.
Mir asked Kaul why he hadn’t placed the doctors’ July 2008 opinion on court record: ‘Is it because you knew that it favoured the accused? And why didn’t you ask Dr Dohare about this report as you recorded his statement?’
Kaul’s reply set the tone for what was to come. He denied the suggestion that he had suppressed the report because it favoured the Talwars. ‘When I wrote Dr Dohare’s statement I did not have knowledge of the opinion.’
‘And did you confront him after you learned about it?’
‘I did not record any statement of Dr Dohare’s in regard to the opinion even after I knew about the report.’
It was the defence’s job to suggest Kaul had been manipulative and malicious. It was Kaul’s job to deny this. And it was the court’s job to look at attendant circumstances—to, in this instance, evaluate whether he was telling the truth. The subject of the ‘non-recovered’ murder weapon had to come up. Kaul admitted that he had never asked for the Talwars’ surgical instruments. Had he seen one? Bought one from a shop?
‘It is correct that I did not even procure a dental scalpel from the market.’ Kaul admitted that he had interviewed two doctors from Delhi’s Maulana Azad Medical College. But that only one of them, Dr Dinesh Kumar, was called as a witness. Dr Chandra Bhushan Singh was dropped. Mir tried to extract why this was the case—after all, Dr Singh was more qualified to speak on the subject of dental surgery.
‘It is correct that Dr Dinesh Kumar does not teach dental surgery but Dr Chandra Bhushan Singh in fact teaches dental surgery.’
‘Had Dr Singh described the kind of scalpels dentists used?’
‘He had stated to me which kind of scalpel is used in dental surgery.’
The no. 15 scalpel that dentists generally use has a cutting edge of 1 cm, and has to be held between the fingers, Mir pointed out. ‘It isn’t possible to cause the kind of neck injuries in question.’
As if by rote, and with customary authority, Kaul replied: ‘It is incorrect to suggest that due to the shape and small size of the dental scalpel it is not possible to cause the neck injuries.’
As pages upon pages of documents were referred to, Mir kept up the pressure on Kaul. As in the case of the scalpel and the golf club, he suggested that the CBI had tampered with evidence, and deliberately withheld information that pointed to the Talwars’ innocence. Kaul routinely denied all of this.
If he had been so certain about the guilt of the Talwars, then why hadn’t he charge-sheeted them? And why had he not listed Nupur Talwar as an accused? ‘I had wanted to charge them, but my senior Neelabh Kishore prevented me from doing so,’ he said. Kaul, who had said he stood by his report, was now telling the court—and of course the media—that his seniors hadn’t stood by him. Predictably, this made all the headlines the next day.
The most substantive part of the cross-examination was, however, under-reported. And this was the charge of tampering that the defence brought against the CBI: the alleged swapping of the pillow covers and the manipulation of the CDFD. Evidence that these exhibits had been tampered with also existed.
Mir was ready with his questions. Had Kaul seen the CDFD report on the pillow covers? What did it say? ‘I had perused this report. In this report it has been stated that the purple colour pillow cover that had been seized from Krishna’s room had yielded the DNA of Hemraj.’
And when did he discover that there was a mistake in it?
‘I had noticed this mistake during the course of the investigation, but I do not remember at what point of time I noticed the mistake.’
‘Did you make a note of it in your case diary?’ asked Mir.
‘I did not mention this in the case diary.’
‘Did you inform anyone when you discovered the mistake?’
‘I did not enter into any correspondence with anybody.’
‘Because I thought that when the expert [the CDFD scientist Prasad] testifies before this honourable court, he will himself talk about the error. He could have been briefed about it in his examination in chief.’
Mir returned to Kaul’s claim that he had realized the error well before he wrote to the CDFD. Could he give a reason why he felt there was an error? Or was there none?
‘It isn’t correct to say that from the descriptions of the pillow covers no material was yielded on the basis of which it could be concluded that there had been a typographical error.’
In other words, Kaul was saying there were things in the report that led him to believe that a typo had been introduced. Like many of the answers provided by witnesses, it was convoluted, but this was the way of the court. Still, there were some questions to which direct answers were unavoidable.
‘Could you give one reason on the basis of which you felt there was a typographical error?’ asked Mir.
‘I cannot state one reason specifically,’ said Kaul.
‘I suggest you are deliberately not telling the court the reasons.’
‘It is incorrect to suggest that.’
Mir moved on. Had Kaul written to the CDFD about the error?
‘On 17.03.2011, I had written a letter to the director CDFD to the extent that it seems to me that the purple colour pillow cover seized from Krishna’s room and the pillow and pillow cover seized from Hemraj’s room have got interchanged as far as their descriptions are concerned. Therefore, the situation may be clarified.’
This letter was marked ‘camp Hyderabad’. Had he visited the lab?
‘I had gone to the CDFD for a discussion but there the receptionist told me that no scientist will meet you and whatever you have to ask, give it in writing.’
Why did Kaul have to go through all of this?
‘The accused persons had raised the issue with the Allahabad High Court; therefore I had to take a clarification.’
But hadn’t the Allahabad High Court already been shown the photographs of the exhibits and told there had been a typographical error before any clarification was sought?
Kaul agreed: ‘Before taking any clarifications [from the CDFD], orally, the honourable high court had been given this clarification.’
So the court was shown the photographs?
‘I do not know whether the photographs of the purple-coloured pillow cover seized from Krishna’s room and that of the pillow and pillow cover seized from the room of Hemraj had been shown to the Allahabad High Court.’
Wasn’t it really the case, said Mir, ‘that the stickers were changed on the purple pillow cover and pillow and, thereafter, their photographs were taken and shown to the Allahabad High Court?’
‘It is incorrect to suggest that,’ said Kaul.
And wasn’t all this done, Mir continued, ‘as a cover-up exercise, and the clarification obtained from CDFD Hyderabad in connivance, in order to conceal the tampering that had been done?’
‘It is incorrect to suggest that,’ said Kaul.
Mir had bitten into something meaty. He asked Kaul who took the pictures of the sealed items and on whose authority.
‘The exhibits that had been returned by the CDFD had been photographed by the CFSL because I had asked them to do so. I needed the photographs for my investigation, but I did not place any of them on record . . . They were not relied-upon documents.’
Now that Kaul had admitted that the photographs were taken on his orders, it was time for Mir to bring on the heavy artillery. He produced a certified copy of the counter-affidavit that the CBI had filed before the Supreme Court. In its annexures were copies of the photographs, in colour.
Mir asked Kaul whether he had filed the affidavit and the photographs.
‘I had filed my counter-affidavit . . . Without seeing the original photographs, I cannot say whether their copies had been filed by me along with it.’
Kaul simply refused to answer any questions about the affidavit or the photographs he had attached. The court recorded:
Counsel for the accused has specifically sought attention of the witness to the copies of the photographs which had been supplied to the accused along with the counter affidavit and upon seeing the same, witness states that he can say nothing about the coloured photographs at all.
Mir moved forward for a final thrust: ‘The photographs that were placed on record before the Supreme Court were not placed on record before this honourable court because upon doing so, the tampering done by the CBI would have been caught!’
Kaul said: ‘It is incorrect to suggest this.’
Tanveer Ahmed Mir was pretty satisfied with his cross-examination. It had taken the best part of four days, but he believed he had done enough. He thought he had succeeded in challenging not just the facts that the CBI had presented. He felt he had, through the evasiveness that he was able to elicit from Kaul, made a good case for sinister intent. The motives for this intent were never his concern. These may have exercised the mind of the observer, but the only person who really knew them was Kaul himself. Why would he be silent on the photographs of the pillow covers? Why wouldn’t he say exactly when he figured out there was a typo? Why would he say his seniors had tried to prevent him from going the distance in this case?
But these questions were irrelevant to the issue at hand: the guilt or innocence of the Talwars. The proof of guilt, in a court adjudicating on the basis of circumstantial evidence, could only be arrived at if the
story was told. No gaps. Of the five days that Kaul had been in court, he had had the chance to tell that story—the story of the time just past midnight on 15–16 May 2008—on the first day. He had not done so. And Mir, with his relentless questioning of Kaul’s methods and intent, had prevented him from doing so over the best part of the next four days.
The ‘gaps’ remained. The big one was: ‘How did the attack(s) actually take place?’
A description of this had to have verbs, words that described actions. Kaul had provided none about the assault.
At the time, Mir thought that a conviction was virtually impossible if these pages in the CBI’s story remained blank. To him, blank pages were better material to mount a defence. If Kaul said nothing, it followed that he didn’t know. If he didn’t know, how could the judge? It was important for Mir not to allow Kaul an ‘entry’. The speculative sequence that Kaul had would waste away in his hand if he couldn’t play it. So far, Kaul hadn’t been afforded the opportunity.
As Mir’s supporting act, Satyaketu Singh rose to ask a ‘few more questions’ to complete Kaul’s cross-examination. In very little time, on 24 April, the final day of Kaul’s cross-examination, he got to the question that he had most often talked about during the trial. The one question that Mir did not want asked: ‘How did the murders actually take place? What was the sequence of events on that night?’
The standing suit of low clubs had gained entry.
Kaul told the story as if he was an eyewitness. ‘[Sometime after midnight] Dr Rajesh Talwar heard a sound. He got up and went to the servant’s room and found that no one was there . . .’
The rest of the story was faithfully retold where it mattered most—in the mainstream media. This is how the
website narrated it, with graphics to go:
‘There were two golf sticks lying in Hemraj’s room one of which Rajesh Talwar picked up. He heard a noise from the room of Aarushi. The room door was not locked and was just shut. He opened the door and found Aarushi and Hemraj were in objectionable position on the bed of Aarushi,’ Kaul said in his testimony.
Kaul said finding them in such a position, Rajesh Talwar hit on Hemraj’s head with golf stick. By the time he gave a second blow the servant’s head moved from the position and the stick hit Aarushi on her forehead . . .
The officer said the noise generated in the process awoke Nupur Talwar who rushed to Aarushi’s room.
‘By the time the injured Hemraj had fallen from the bed. Both checked the pulse of Aarushi and found her near-dead which scared them and planned that the servant should be executed so that no one comes to know about the incident,’ Kaul said before the court.
He said both decided to hide the body of Hemraj and dispose it of on getting suitable opportunity.
The duo wrapped Hemraj’s body in a bed-sheet and dragged him to terrace where they slit his throat, covering the body with a cooler panel, Kaul said.
He said after coming to the room, they dressed up the crime scene by arranging the bed sheet and toys.
They slit Aarushi’s throat, to ensure that wounds on Hemraj and their daughter look similar, and Nupur cleaned her private parts, he said.
Giving details of his findings, the officer said the dentist couple cleaned blood stains, disturbed the router, collected all the clothes which were used to clean blood and also the small sharp edged weapon used in the killing with an intention to dispose them off.
‘They cleaned the golf stick which was used in the murder and hid it in the loft of Aarushi’s bedroom. They locked the door of Aarushi’s room from outside. They locked the outermost door from inside and wooden door from outside and entered the flat through Hemraj’s room, the door of which opened between these two entry doors,’ he said.
Both waited for their maid Bharti to come while Rajesh kept drinking liquor all this time.