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INTRODUCTION

The Noida double murder case refers to the murder of 14-year old Aarushi Talwar and 45-year old Hemraj, a domestic help employed by her family, in Noida, India. The two were killed on the night of 1516 May 2008 at Aarushi's home. The case aroused public interest as a whodunit story, and received heavy media coverage. The sensational media coverage, which included salacious allegations against Aarushi and the suspects, was criticized by many as a trial by media. When Aarushi's body was discovered on 16 May, the missing servant Hemraj was considered as the main suspect. However, the next day, his decomposed body was discovered on the terrace. The police were heavily criticized for failing to secure the crime scene immediately. After ruling out the family's ex-servants, the police considered Aarushi's parents Dr. Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar as the prime suspects. The police suspected that Rajesh had murdered the two after finding them in an "objectionable" position, or because Rajesh's alleged extra-marital affair had led to his blackmail by Hemraj and a confrontation with Aarushi. The accusations enraged the Talwars' family and friends, who accused to police of framing the Talwars in order to cover up the botched-up investigation. The case was then transferred to the CBI, which exonerated the parents and suspected the Talwars' assistant Krishna along with two domestic servants Rajkumar and Vijay. Based on the narco tests conducted on the three men, the CBI suspected that they had killed Aarushi after an attempted sexual assault, and Hemraj for being a witness. The CBI was accused of using dubious methods to extract a confession, and all the three men were released after it could not find any solid evidence against them. In 2009, the CBI handed over the investigation to a new team, which recommended closing the case due to critical gaps in the evidence. Based on circumstantial evidence, it named Rajesh Talwar as the sole suspect, but refused to charge him due to lack of any hard evidence. The parents opposed the closure, calling CBI's suspicion on Rajesh as baseless. Subsequently, a court rejected the CBI's claim that there was not enough evidence, and ordered proceedings against the Talwars. In November 2013, the parents were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Many critics argued that the judgment was based on weak evidence, and the Talwars stated that they would appeal to the higher courts.

Discovery of Aarushi's body


On 16 May 2008, the family's housemaid Bharti Mandal (35) rang their doorbell around 6 am. She had been employed six days earlier.[16] Everyday, Hemraj would open the door for her, as Nupur and Rajesh were late risers. But this time, nobody opened the door even after she rang the doorbell twice. She later stated that she tried pushing the outermost gate, but it did not open.[17] After Bharti rang the doorbell again, Nupur opened the innermost wooden door. Speaking through the mesh of the middle grill door, she told Bharati that this door is locked from outside. She asked Bharti about the whereabouts of Hemraj. When Bharti said that she had no idea, Nupur remarked that Hemraj must have gone outside to fetch milk and must have locked the door from outside. She asked Bharti to wait outside until Hemraj returned.[16] Bharti did not want to wait and asked Nupur to throw the keys. Nupur asked her to go downstairs so that she could throw the keys to her from the balcony.[14] Nupur then called Hemraj's mobile phone, but the call was abruptly cut. When she tried calling him again, the phone appeared to have been switched off.[9] When Bharti reached downstairs, Nupur asked her to go back and check if the door was just latched, not locked.[16] Bharti insisted that Nupur throw the keys anyway, so that she doesn't have to take the stairs again, in case the door was locked. Nupur then threw the keys down to Bharti.[17] According to the Talwars, by this time, Rajesh also woke up. He entered the living room and saw a near-empty Scotch whisky bottle on the dining table, which surprised him. He asked Nupur who had kept the bottle there, and then alarmed, asked her to check Aarushi's room. Aarushi's room would generally be locked, and could be opened from inside or from outside by the parents with a key. But the couple found it unlocked. When they entered the room, they saw Aarushi's dead body lying on her bed. Rajesh started screaming, while Nupur remained silent (due to shock, according to her).[18] Meanwhile, Bharti returned to the outermost gate: she pushed it, and it opened without the key. She found that the middle door was latched, but not locked. She opened the latch and walked in.[17] When she entered the apartment, she saw Rajesh and Nupur crying. Nupur asked her to come inside Aarushi's room. Bharti stood at the entrance of the room, as Nupur walked inside. Aarushi's body lay on her bed; it was covered with a flannel blanket. Nupur pulled the blanket, and Bharti saw that Aarushi's throat was slit. Both the parents blamed Hemraj for Aarushi's murder in front of the maid. Bharti walked out of the apartment to inform the neighbours. She returned to the house and asked the Talwars if they wanted her to do the daily household chores. When they said "No", she moved on to work in other households.[16]

The Talwars called their family and friends. Puneesh Rai Tandon, a neighbour who lived one floor below the Talwars, asked the Jalvayu Vihar security guard Virendra Singh to inform the police.[19] By the time the police arrived, there were 15 people in the living room and 5-6 people in the Talwars' bedroom; only Aarushi's room was vacant. The crime scene had been "completely trampled upon".[9] The story of a murder in an affluent neighbourhood also attracted many mediapersons, who gathered around the house by 8 am.

Hemraj as the suspect


On 16 May, the missing servant Hemraj was the prime suspect. In his police complaint, Rajesh blamed Hemraj for his daughter's murder.[20] He repeatedly told the police to pursue Hemraj instead of wasting time in the apartment, and offered them 25,000 to rush to Hemraj's native village in Nepal. The police suspected that Hemraj entered Aarushi's room in an inebriated state after consuming Scotch whisky, and tried to sexually assault her. When she resisted, he killed her with a kukri (a Nepali knife). The police announced a reward of 20,000 for tips leading to his capture.[9]

Aarushi's body was taken for post-mortem around 8:30 am by two Uttar Pradesh police constables. Rajesh's brother Dinesh Talwar, his driver Umesh and his childhood friend Ajay Chadha accompanied the constables. [5] According to CBI, when the post-mortem report was being written between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on May 16, a series of telephonic conversations had happened between Dinesh Talwar, Dr. Sushil Chaudhury (Dinesh's friend and the chairman of the ICARE Eye Hospital) and KK Gautam (retired deputy superintendent of police).[9] KK Gautam, while deposing at the CBI court later in 2012, stated that Sushil had requested him to get any references to a sexual assault removed from the post-mortem report, but he refused to oblige.[21] He told the court that he had mentioned this incident to the first CBI team, but they left out this information from their records.[22] Around 1 pm, Aarushi's body was brought home and placed on ice slabs in the living room. It was taken for cremation at the Antim Niwas crematorium around 4 pm.[23] According to the Talwars, who were later accused of being in a hurry to cremate the body, it was decomposing fast, and the family elders were pushing for cremation. As per them, the police confirmed that the body was not needed for any further examination.[18] The police later alleged that the Talwars' domestic staff showed undue haste in cleaning Aarushi's room. [9] In Talwars' defence, theircompounder Vikas Sethi told the court that he had received the permission to clean the house from the police personnel and a lady constable present on the crime scene.[24] A part of Aarushi's blood-stained mattress was cut out and sent to the forensics lab along with her pillow, bed sheet and clothes. Vikas Sethi later testified that he, along with three others, tried to dump the remaining part of the mattress on the terrace, but found it locked. An old lady then told him to put the mattress on the neighbouring terrace. Rajesh's driver Umesh then asked the neighbour Puneesh Tandon for the key to his terrace. Earlier, at 4 pm also, Umesh had asked Puneesh for the key, saying that he needed to dump the ice brought for Aarushi's body. This time, Puneesh opened the terrace himself. Umesh, Vikas and two others dragged the mattress to his terrace. Puneesh then locked the terrace door. None of them noticed the body of Hemraj, which was lying on the adjacent terrace, separated by a grilled wall

Discovery of Hemraj's body


On the morning of 16 May, the visitors to the Talwars' house noticed some bloodstains on the terrace door handle. One visitor, Rajiv Kumar Varshney (a former colleague of Rajesh), told the police that he also saw faint bloodstains on the staircase leading to the terrace. He took another visitor Dr. Rajiv Kocchar (a former colleague of Rajesh at the ITS Dental College) to the spot. Kocchar told the investigators that he saw "red footprints that seemed to have been wiped off" on the staircase. [26] However, other witnesses did not notice any bloodstains on the staircase in the morning. These witnesses included several police officers, Umesh Sharma, Puneesh Rai Tandon, Bharti Mandal and Vikas Sethi.[27][28][25] The bloodstains might have been left by the group that tried taking Aarushi's mattress to the Talwars' terrace.[18] Rohit Kochchar stated that the bloodstains on the terrace door were brought to the attention of a police constable named Akhilesh Kumar. Praful Durrani, who also visited the house, claimed that the policeman initially dismissed the spot on the terrace door as rust, and was also dismissive of the bloodstains on the floor. According to Rajiv Varshney, the police told him that the killer must have tried to escape through or hide weapon on the terrace, but returned after finding it locked. [29] Eventually, the police were persuaded to investigate the terrace, but they could not get the key to the terrace door. Rohit Kochhar later testified that when a policeman asked Rajesh for the terrace key, he "went into the house and did not come out for a long time." Another of Rajesh's former colleagues, Rajiv Kumar Varshney, later told the court that Rajesh went "towards staircase and immediately returned and

went inside the house".[30]Rajesh later stated that he does not have exact recollection of what happened at that time, but he insisted that he never stopped the investigators from visiting any part of the house.[5] Ultimately, the police was unable to open the door and let it remain locked until the next day. SP Mahesh Mishra later stated that he had asked the terrace door to be opened on May 16. However, his subordinates told him that Rajesh Talwar couldn't find the key and they couldn't find a mechanic to break open the door. He also stated that he had filed a report on this "carelessness" with the Senior Superintendent of police (SSP) Noida. [28] On the morning of 17 May, Rajesh and Nupur left for Haridwar to immerse Aarushi's ashes in the Ganges river as per the Hindu custom. Several visitors continued to arrive at the Talwars' house (which was being managed by Dinesh) with their condolences. These visitors included KK Gautam, who had been requested by Sushil Chaudhury to come to the Talwars' house. After arriving at the house, Gautam examined the rooms of Aarushi and Hemraj. Dinesh then showed him the blood stains on the terrace door handle. According to Gautam, Dinesh requested him to get the terrace door lock opened. Gautam then called SP Mahesh Mishra, and told him that that the lock needed to be broken. Mishra promised that he would himself visit the crime scene, and meanwhile, sent the station officer Dataram Nauneria to the apartment. The key to the terrace was still missing. Anita Durrani asked the Talwars' neighbour Puneesh Tandon if he had a duplicate key to the Talwars' terrace, to which Tandon replied in the negative. [19] Ultimately, Dataram Nauneria broke open the lock.[21] As the group entered the terrace, they saw more bloody drag marks. A body "in advanced stage of putrification" was discovered lying in a pool of blood at about 10:30 am.[6] Dinesh couldn't identify the newly-discovered body, and called Rajesh and Nupur (who were on their way to Haridwar), asking them to return home. Meanwhile, SP Mahesh Mishra also reached the spot. [21] When the couple arrived at the home, Nupur didn't enter the house: she sat in the car with Aarushi's ashes, as she considered it inauspicious to take the ashes inside. Rajesh went upstairs to identify the body. He told the police that he couldn't be sure that the body was that of Hemraj, due to the injuries and thedecomposition. Later, a friend of Hemraj identified the body as his.[5] Rajesh and Nupur later resumed their journey to Haridwar and returned the same day. At Haridwar, Rajesh entered the time of Aarushi's death as 2 am in the priest's records.[31] An autopsy of Hemraj's body was conducted at night by Dr. Naresh Raj.

Claims of threat to Hemraj's life


According to the police, Hemraj had told some of his friends about a threat to his life. [71] Although Hemraj's son-in-law Jeevan denied any knowledge of such a threat,[72] a social worker Usha Thakur confirmed that five days before his murder, Hemraj had told her that he feared for "his life and that of some of his near and dear ones".[73][74] Later, she told the investigators that she could not do anything for him that day, since she had rush to Bangalore due to a family urgency.[75] Nearly three years after the murder, in March 2011, Hemraj's wife Khumkala, a resident of Nepal, came to India. She moved a plea at the CBI court in Ghaziabad, alleging that she supected the Talwars to be the murderers. She stated that Hemraj treated Aarushi like his own daughter, but had strained relations with Rajesh. She claimed when Hemraj visited Nepal in December 2007, he had described Rajesh as a short-tempered person who rebuked him for trivial things and even chase him to beat him up. She also claimed that Hemraj had called her from a PCO 15 days before his murder: He told her that Rajesh and Nupur suspected him of leaking their family secrets. When Rajesh's brother Dinesh visited their house, he also looked upon Hemraj with suspicion. The three threatened to kill him, if he dared leak the family's private information to the outsiders. [76] According to her, Hemraj was frustrated with the Talwars' behaviour and was searching for a new job. [77] Hemraj's wife also claimed that Hemraj had not sent any money back home since December 2007, and had told her that he had kept the money with the Talwars. But the Talwars did not send her Hemraj's dues after his murder.[78] When asked why she had not made these revelations earlier, she stated that she had faith in India's judiciary until that point; her lawyer stated that she came from a poor family and had little awareness

Other evidence
Hemraj apparently served himself dinner in a plate around 10:30 pm, but never ate it. His bed was still tidy in the morning, indicating that he didn't go to sleep on that night.[5] A Ballantine's Scotch whisky bottle with bloodstains was found on the dining table. The bloodstains were confirmed as that of Aarushi and Hemraj by a DNA expert.[79] The Scotch whisky bottle came from a mini-bar concealed behind a wooden panel, so it appears that the person who took it out knew the house well. The bottle was seized on the morning of 16 May, but no clear fingerprints could be recovered from it.[43]

Constable Chunnilal Gautam took the first photographs of the crime scene and collected fingerprints on 16 May. [80] The police had gathered 26 fingerprints from the crime scene. According to a CBI official, 24 of these were gathered through wrong methods and could not be preserved. Only 2 fingerprints were suitable for evidential purposes, but these did not match with any of the suspects.[81] Chunni Lal did not take fingerprints of Aarushi.[82]

Aarushi's camera had photographs numbered 13, 15, 20, 22 and 23: this indicates that at least 23 photographs had been taken using the camera, out of which 18 had been deleted. The CBI considered the possibility of the photographs having been deleted by someone other than Aarushi. [83] Nupur suggests a simpler explanation: Aarushi took several pictures, and deleted the ones she didn't like.[84]

At around 3:43 a.m., nearly 3 hours after Aarushi's murder, the Internet router in Aarushi's room switched off. The CBI produced a technical expert from CERT-In who stated that the switching on/off of the router after a long gap can only happen due to either a power cut or manual intervention. There was no power cut on the night of the murders, a fact attested to by the electricity department.[85] The router was next switched on at 6.01 a.m. However, the router switched on and off a number of times with long gaps throughout 16 May, even when the police and the visitors were present in the apartment. The CBI concluded that such unexplained router activity made this piece of evidence unreliable.

Parents' defense
Rajesh claimed that he was being framed by the police to cover up their own botched-up investigation. The case was transferred to theCentral Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 31 May at the request of Aarushi's parents. In June, CBI started investigating the case under the Joint-Director Arun Kumar. The Talwars provided counter-arguments for the points that had made them the prime suspects:[5][9][18] Sleeping through the murders The Talwars stated that they slept through the murders because of the noise produced by two air conditioners on the hot night. The couple's room had a window AC, and Aarushi's room had a split AC; both were switched on the night of 15 May.[6] In addition, their bedroom was shut. Aarushi is also believed to have had a throat infection, due to which she could not have screamed aloud.[104] In 2013, the defence witness and forensic expert Dr. RK Sharma stated that a 14-year old child would have fallen unconscious immediately due to the first blow from the blunt weapon, and would not have been able to scream for help. He based this statement on an analysis of the injuries on Aarushi's body.[41] A sound expert team later recreated the air conditioners' noise in the house on CBI's invitation. The team concluded that it was possible that the Talwars' could not hear the sounds outside their room, and thus, could have slept through the activities in their house on that night. Murder of Aarushi and Hemraj in a fit of anger on finding them together The later evidence suggested that the killers did not drag Hemraj's body to the terrace to hide it: he was killed on the terrace, which nullifies the theory that Rajesh killed him when he saw him in Aarushi's room. Rajesh's driver Umesh testified that the clothes worn by Rajesh on the morning of 16 May were the same as the ones he saw him wearing the previous night when he came to return the keys. His description of Rajesh's clothes matched that of the maid Bharati, who told the court that Rajesh was wearing a red T-shirt and a half trouser, while Nupur was wearing a blue maxi gown.[16][105]There was only Aarushi's blood on Rajesh's clothes, but no blood of Hemraj could be traced on these clothes. There was no blood on the clothes that Nupur was seen wearing in the photographs taken by Aarushi on the night before.[12] This implied that the parents could not have committed the murders under sudden provocation, as speculated by the police.[5][106] The parents also pointed out that they would not indulge in something like honor killing, as they came from liberal educated families and had an inter-caste marriage.[107] Undue haste in cremation and cleaning The parents denied that they had dressed up the crime scene, pointing out that if they wanted to do so, they would have not left the Scotch whisky bottle with bloodstains in the living room for everyone to see. The family denied that they had shown any haste in cleaning the crime scene or cremating Aarushi's body. Nupur's mother Lata Chitnis and their clinic manager Vikas Sethi stated they received permission from the police to clean the house. The police had told them that they had already collected all the necessary evidence, including a part of Aarushi's mattress. It was the police who suggested that Aarushi's mattress be taken to the terrace for now, given the media clamor downstairs. Vikas found the terrace locked, and when he

could not find the key, he placed the mattress on the neighbouring terrace. The family also claimed that the police confirmed that they won't need the body for any further analysis, since the post-mortem had already been done. Since it was decomposing fast, they cremated it. Access to Aarushi's room Nupur explained the killer's force-free entry into Aarushi's room by stating that she might have left the key hanging at the door lock, when she arrived to switch on the Internet router. Extra-marital affair The Talwars and the Durranis denied that Rajesh and Anita were engaged in an extramarital affair. According to them, the two couples had close ties, because they shared dental clinics and both were nuclear families with teenage daughters. [52] Other[5][18]

The fingerprints of the parents were not found on the Scotch whisky bottle or the blood-stained clothes of the victims.[6] Rajesh stated that he urged the police to pursue Hemraj, because being missing, he was the obvious suspect. Rajesh also claimed that he had no recollection of the police asking him for the keys to the terrace door. He could not recognize Hemraj's body as it was highly decomposed. He also claimed that he noticed that the Tshirt on the body read "New York"; the police had told him that the person was wearing a kada (a bracelet). He went down to ask Nupur (who was sitting in the car) whether Hemraj had worn these two items. When Nupur confirmed that he did, Rajesh called Dinesh to say that the body was most likely that of Hemraj.

Dinesh denied asking KK Gautam to use his influence to change the post-mortem report. He claimed that CBI could not find any records of him making calls at the post-mortem house. The crime scene had been compromised, so Kumar turned to polygraph test (lie-detector), brain-mapping tests and narco-analysis. Rajesh and Nupur cleared two lie-detector tests and a brain-mapping test, which did not find any evidence of lying on their part.

The Talwars' relatives and friends state that the parents displayed adequate signs of grief. Nupur's father BG Chitnis reported that "Rajesh had become hysterical and was banging his head against the wall." Radhika Chada, a family friend, stated that Nupur was in "complete shock". Masooma Ranalvi, mother of Aarushi's friend Fiza, said that Rajesh and Nupur were "numb with grief". [54]

The size of the shoeprint found on the terrace was 8 or 9, while Rajesh's shoe size is 6

The case against the Talwars


In January 2011, the Talwars filed a petition protesting against the CBI's attempt to close the case. However, their petition was rejected by the magistrate Preeti Singh of the special CBI court in Ghaziabad. [146] On 9 February 2011, she converted the CBI closure report into a charge sheet, and summoned Rajesh and Nupur as the accused.[147] The Talwars moved to the Allahabad High Court and then to the Supreme Court, petitioning against being summoned and proceedings being initiated against them. However, both the courts rejected their pleas.[148][149] The formal trial began from 11 May 2013.[150] CBI was represented by senior advocate Siddharth Luthra. The Talwars were defended by the former solicitor-general Harish Salve, Mukul Rohatgi and Rebecca John, all of whom worked pro bono.[18] The defence lawyers focused on opposing the clean chit given to the Krishna, Rajkumar and Vijay; providing counter-arguments to the points that raised suspicions on their clients; and pointing out lapses in the investigation. The Talwars were given access to the witness statements and the photographs on which CBI was relying for prosecution. [151] However, they were not given access to the polygraph, narco-analysis and brain-mapping test reports of Krishna, Rajkumar and Vijay. The Talwars also objected to CBI's claim that the narco tests on the three men were unreliable. They moved to the Supreme Court to seek these reports, but in October 2013, the Court rejected their plea on the grounds that such reports are inadmissible in evidence. [152][153] The Court also stated that the Talwars were adopting delaying tactics, citing the several applications filed by them at every stage. [154] The CBI court also

rejected the Talwars' plea to summon Anuj Arya and Nalini Singh to prove that the three men were present in Hemraj's room on the night.[111][112] In August 2012, the media reported that the CBI officer AGL Kaul had been using the e-mail ID hemraj.jalvayuvihar@gmail.com for the CBI's official communication with the Talwars, under the name "Hemraj Singh". CBI initially denied these allegations, but later admitted that the email ID was created for some "specific purpose" which they refused to explain. [155] The journalist Avirook Sen alleged that this was a crude pressure tactic against the Talwars, since they were forced to respond to the mails purportedly coming from someone named "Hemraj".[156] The Talwars asked for a Touch DNA test to analyze the palm print found on the terrace, and the Scotch whisky bottle. The Talwars also asked for a Touch DNA test on the golf club that was allegedly used as the murder weapon. They even offered to pay for these tests.[157] The CBI consulted J Nagaraju, a molecular genetics scientist (and director of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, which conducted the DNA testing for the Aarushi case). Nagaraju dismissed the reliability of the LCN DNA technology and the possibility of it yielding any fresh evidence.[5] The Supreme Court rejected the Talwars' appeal, and refused to order any further investigation.[18] In August 2012, the CFSL DNA scientist BK Mahapatra claimed that he had found male DNA on Aaurshi's pillow, leading credence to the theory that Hemraj was present in Aarushi's room. However, CBI later clarified that Mahapatra's claim was wrong. The pillow was from Hemraj's room; it was a part of "Parcel 21", which had been collected from the Talwars's house on 1 June 2008. The defence argued that the CBI had deliberately created this misunderstanding to frame the Talwars. [158] Also in September, the CBI tried to debunk the claim that the parents could not have heard the outside happenings because of the air conditioners' noise. It claimed that there a portion of the wall between the couple's room and Aarushi's room was made of a plywood partition. It also alleged that after the murders, the Talwars hired a painter named Shohrat, who painted the partition with a colour matching the other walls of Aarushi's room. [159] Shohrat testified that Rajesh asked him to paint the wooden partition with a wall-matching color twice - once in 2009 and again on 19 April 2010.[160] He also stated that Rajesh asked him to remove the outermost grill gate along with the iron grill on the balcony, both of which were in good shape. [161] The CBI implied that the parents were trying to tamper with the evidence. The Talwars branded this claim as false, saying that the rooms were separated by a brick wall that had a plywood lamination over it. They defence also stated that Shohrat had been hired to paint the entire apartment, not just the partition. Besides, the painting was done in July 2009, more than an year after the murders, and when the apartment was vacant. The Talwars also stated that they possessed e-mails from CBI that granted them the permission to renovate the apartment.[5][11] In its 2010 closure report, the CBI had stated the sequence of events on the night of the murders was unclear. However, after the court asked the Talwars to be charged with the murders, the CBI investigator AGL Kaul narrated the following possible sequence of events during his cross-examination in the court, in April 2013

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