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You must have all read in the papers that on October 8, the Supreme Court turned down the Special Leave Petition (SLP) of the Talwars in the Aarushi-Hemraj Murder trial. The newspapers pretended as though the Supreme Court had taken a just and correct position. The Hindu (October 9, 2013) headline said: “SC raps Talwars for adopting delaying tactics, rejects plea.” The report quotes at length, the strictures passed by the bench of B.S. Chauhan and SA Bobde who concluded that “it was evident that the Talwars have been adopting dilatory tactics on every moment.”(Sic)
The report does not bother to provide the point-of-view of the Defence or what was sought to be achieved by the SLP. The other newspapers have been no better. The Times of India has been the trusty foot soldier of the CBI while the Hindustan Times has faithfully carried plants that has masqueraded as news.
For those who may be confused by the stance of the Supreme Court (given that most of us like to believe that the apex court will do its best to uphold the rule of law), let me explain.
The Talwars had moved an SLP in the Supreme Court challenging an order where they were denied access to the Narco Analysis Reports of the domestic helps. In ten out of ten cases, this would have been allowed but not so with the Talwars.
In a shocking breach of faith, the Supreme Court first announced to a packed court that there was no reason why the same should not be allowed (after all every individual should be given the right to prove his/her defence) and then did a complete turnaround the next day.
Not only was the appeal rejected but the defence was castigated for indulging in `delaying tactics’ none of which was actually caused by the Talwars. (The Ghaziabad court was on strike for a months and the Allahabad High Court had granted the Talwars a stay for 15 days.) But more importantly, what’s the big rush? Is speed more important than justice?
The Talwars have repeatedly requested for certain kinds of evidence to be placed on record that the courts have systematically refused to admit. This is standard legal procedure and NOTHING that the Talwars have requested so far has been irregular or illegal. The question that we must then ask is – why is the court not taking cognisance of the narco-analysis report? The answer is simple: it would be quite inconvenient now to have evidence showing that the involvement of a third party in the murder cannot be ruled out.
Siddharth Luthra, prosecution lawyer has grabbed much newsprint saying that the Talwars are trying to delay because the Judge is supposed to retire in November. Why should the date of a retirement of a judge serve as a deadline for any case? So what if the judge is retiring, the judiciary is not.
To me the most pertinent question is not why the Talwars are `delaying’ but why the courts, pushed into accelerated mode by the CBI and the media, are rushing? There are hundreds and thousands of important cases pending in court, why has this case become the test-case for speed?
I do not know the Talwars personally but have followed the case very closely. Because of its seeming innocuousness, this case is actually the most significant of all legal battles because the explanation for the witch-hunt is not easily explained. The due-process of this case should have concerned us all simply because precedence set by the case will have implications for each and every citizen of this country. The predicament of the Talwars will haunt us for years to come.
A grave miscarriage of justice seems inevitable. All of us who have been silent, cynical, unquestioning or oblivious will have been complicit.