Aarushi Talwar murder case refers to the murder of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar and 45-year-old Hemraj Banjade, a domestic help employed by her family, in Noida, India. The two were murdered on the night of 15–16 May 2008 at Aarushi's home. The case stirred public enthusiasm as a whodunit story and got hefty media coverage. Many as a trial criticized the sensational media coverage, which included salacious allegations against Aarushi and the suspects, by media.
When Aarushi's body was found on 16 May, the missing servant Hemraj was considered as the prime suspect. However, the subsequent day, his partially decomposed body was found on the terrace. The police were vigorously criticized for failing to secure the crime scene immediately. After ruling out the family's ex-helper, the police considered Aarushi's parents—Dr. Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar—as the murders. The police suspected that Rajesh had murdered the two after finding them in an "objectionable" position, or on the grounds that Rajesh's alleged extra-marital affair had led to his blackmail by Hemraj and a confrontation with Aarushi. The accusations enraged the Talwars' loved ones, who blamed the police of framing the Talwars’ in order to cover up the bungled-up investigation. The case was then transferred to the CBI, which exonerated the parents and suspected the Talwars' assistant Krishna along with two more servants—Rajkumar and Vijay. In light of 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 shutting 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 a 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 have challenged the decision in the Allahabad High Court.
On the morning of May 16, 2008 Aarushi Talwar was found dead in the bedroom of her house in Jalvayu Vihar, Noida. Her throat was slit and her head bludgeoned. The family’s live-in domestic help Hemraj Banjade was seen as the prime suspect in the murder, but, a day later, Hemraj was found dead on the terrace of the same flat. His throat was also slit and he had suffered injuries to his head. There were wounds all over his body and the door to the terrace was found locked from inside.
FIRST STAGE OF INVESTIGATION
After seeing the post-mortem report, the police presumed that the double murders were an insider job and were done with someone who had clinical precision. On May 19, 2008, Vishnu Sharma, the former domestic helper was suspected of murdering them of the fury of getting replaced by Hemraj. However, the police couldn’t find anything while investigating him.
SECOND STAGE OF INVESTIGATION
The Delhi police suspected Rajesh and Nupur Talwar for both the murders. The main reasons for such suspicions were-
The denial of Aarushi’s parents about hearing any sound even though they were just 7-8 feet away from her room.
The offer of Rs 25000 made by Rajesh to find Hemraj was viewed as a diversionary strategy,
The forswearing of Rajesh to recognize Hemraj's body was viewed as an endeavor to delude the police.
The request made by Dinesh to remove any sexual assault information from the post-mortem report was objected by the police
They created an extramarital affair theory between Rajesh Talwar and Anita(Talwar’s friend). Aarushi knew this fact and had confided with Hemraj. According to them Rajesh finding Aarushi and Hemraj in an objectionable position that night could not control his anger and committed the double murder.
The extramarital affair of Anita and Rajesh was confirmed by Anmol, a close friend of Aarushi who was told this fact by Aarushi.
On May 23, 2008, Rajesh Talwar was arrested as the key suspect.
However, police had no material or forensic evidence to prove it. This clearly shows that police had invariably failed in investigating the case and formed a storyline that suited them.
THIRD STAGE OF INVESTIGATION
On 1st June 2008 at the request of Aarushi’s parents, the case was transferred to CBI.
The first CBI suspected Krishna (Driver of Talwar’s), Rajkumar(Ex- servant of Talwar’s), and Vijay(Talwar’s compounder) and arrested Krishna on June 13, 2008.
Various narco tests were conducted but they were not conclusive as every time an alternative version of the day came out. With an intention of taking revenge and finding Aarushi’s door, open Rajesh killed her and since Hemraj was the witness to Aarushi’s murder he murdered him on the terrace and destroyed his mobile, and flushed the murder weapon.
However, no charge sheet could be filed against them as it was proved that they were absent at the time of the murder and Narco tests couldn’t be depended upon by the court just as the blood-stained ‘khurki’ and pillow cover found from Krishna’s room had the blood of an animal in it.
The CBI declared it a ‘blind case’ and a new team was appointed for investigation. This again shows a complete failure of investigation from the side of the CBI.
FOURTH STAGE OF INVESTIGATION
The new CBI team alleged that Nupur and Rajesh Talwar murdered the victims on the following grounds.
No forced entry- The CBI claimed that there was a friendly entry as there was no sign of breaking of any door or window. Since there have been only four people within the house and two were killed, the onus to prove lied on the parents.
Room locked by parents- Since Aarushi’s room was locked by her parents and that they had the keys. They had to prove if anyone else entered the room and the way of entry.
Altering the crime scene- The blood was found on the floor, pillow, and wall and even at the entrance of the bedroom but not on the toys, pillow on the back of the bed, the book, and school bag that should be exposed to the blood were clean which showed that the room was cleaned. Moreover, the bedsheet was spread out so smoothly as if the body was kept on the bed sheet after the murder.
CBI also claimed that the private parts of Aarushi were cleaned after her death.
They supported the love theory framed by the police.
On 9th February 2011, the Ghaziabad special CBI court convicted the parents of murder based on circumstantial evidence and media pressure which was a complete miscarriage of justice.
The court under Section 106 and 114 of the evidence act assumed the presence of certain facts against the parents and did not consider any other evidence introduced by the accused. The court gave one-sided judgment and convicted Talwars’ U/S 302 r/w Section 34 for murdering her daughter and section 201 r/w Section 34 for tampering with the pieces of evidence.
After many waits, the Allahabad High Court on October 2, 2017, acquitted them on basis of weak evidence and provided relief to those helpless parents.
ROLE OF MEDIA
This is not the first-time media has intruded in a case; they have always been criticized for their unprofessionalism. In this case, the police have messed up the case and not the media. Media played both positive and negative roles. It can’t be denied the continuous intrusion of media was the major reason in pointing out the faulty investigation of police and CBI. The Supreme Court heavily criticized the role of media and said that media scaled new heights of responsibility that caused irreversible damage to the innocent parents who lost their daughter.
The media continuously framed the Rajesh Talwar and his friend, just to gain TRP and made the public believe that the parents killed their daughter when there was no witness nor any proper evidence. The relationship between Hemraj and Aarushi tarnished the character of the girl. Even before the investigation Inspector General of Police, Meerut in a press conference declared the girl as characterless and concluded that the father in sudden and grave provocation killed the daughter. However, he was charged for defamation but the media spiced up the story and made the nation believe.
All this false media story and accusations took away the right of the fair trial from parents and in turn, led to their conviction.
IMPROPER INVESTIGATION OF POLICE AND CBI
The case became complex due to the continuous failure of police and CBI. The crime scene was opened to all, which tampered the evidence, and the loopholes in the legal system prevented them from carrying on the investigation. This case is a perfect example of why India’s judicial system needs reformation. Noida police not only botched the investigation but also mishandled the forensic evidence. The CBI’s flip-flop conclusions in its closure report gave the court to take suo motu cognizance of the culpability of the Talwars and begin their trial. Shockingly, the trial led to the conviction of Talwars. This shows that without any proper evidence the parents were convicted only because of the public and media pressure. The legal system wanted to close the case as soon as possible.