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This article is written by Sarthak Kulshrestha, a BA.LLB. student at Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal. In this article, the murder of Neeraj Grover, one of the most terrifying murder cases of India, has been discussed in detail. 

This article has been published by Shoronya Banerjee.

Introduction

The city of Mumbai is said to be India’s nerve centre for finding career opportunities in television and films. People living across different parts of the country come here to showcase their talent and aspire to establish their name in the entertainment industry.

Neeraj Grover, a young man who hailed from Kishni, a small town in Uttar Pradesh was born in 1982. He came to Mumbai to set his foot in the television industry. At the age of 26, he was working as a creative executive director in the Indian version of a US television show “Are you smarter than a fifth-grader.” He was also holding the auditions of a soon-to-be-released television series ‘Mahabharat.’ Neeraj’s work was going well until he chanced upon a lady named Maria Monica Susairaj, a Kannada actress. Over a period of time, the intimacy and affection between them grew to a certain level which ultimately led to the homicide of Neeraj Grover. This article further explains what exactly happened that it became one of the most gruesome murder cases in India.

Background of the case

Maria M. Susairaj first met Neeraj in his office for the purpose of giving the audition for the television series mentioned above. Neeraj did not find her acting skills up to the mark and fit for the role exactly required. Also, because she was of Kannada origin, she lacked the accent of the Hindi language which was required by the show. Irrespective of the anomalies he found in Maria’s character as an actress, he was impressed by her as a person. Soon, he befriended her, and since Maria also showed interest in him, they became good friends. They shared each others’ contacts and communicated regularly via calls and online chatting platforms.

Gradually, the affection and intimacy between both of them grew and they started meeting more frequently. As time passed, Maria found a place to stay in Mumbai. She took an apartment on rent, that was flat no. 201 in Dheeraj Solitaire apartments, Malad, Mumbai.

Facts of the case

Maria Susairaj was engaged to a person named Emile Jerome Mathew who was a naval officer posted in Cochin. He claimed that Maria was involved in a deep friendship with Neeraj. Being Maria’s fiance, Jerome became hypersensitive and possessive of her regarding her casual involvement with Grover. On the night of May 6, 2008, Neeraj reportedly went to Maria’s place to help her settle in her new house. Somehow, on a phone call, Matthew got to know that Neeraj was present at Maira’s house that evening and thereby he asked her to send Neeraj away and not let him stay overnight. However, he sensed the fact that he would spend the night at her house which was not at all acceptable to Matthew.

In the morning of May 7, 2008, when Maria and Neeraj were asleep, around 7 A.M., the doorbell of Maria’s house rang multiple times. Maria went to the main door of the apartment to check who was ringing the bell and she was shocked to see her fiance, Matthew on the doorstep. He barged into the house and found Neeraj inside. Matthew was enraged to see Grover there and bitter arguments had started between both of them which ended up in a physical tussle. Matthew in a fit of anger brought a knife from the kitchen and stabbed Neeraj repeatedly until he took his last breath. He died on the spot.

Reportedly, at 10 A.M., Maria went to purchase two duffel bags, bedsheets, curtains, and a knife. Then, Matthew and Maria cut the dead body of Neeraj into small pieces, allegedly three hundred pieces, and put it together in those bags which she bought earlier. They both changed the bedroom upholstery in order to destroy the evidence of murder. She borrowed the car of her neighbour and after keeping the bags in the boot space, at around 4:30 P.M., the same day, Maria and Matthew drove out of the city. On their way to the outskirts of Mumbai, the couple bought a quantity of petrol as they planned to set the pieces of the dead body on fire. Finally, after accomplishing the task of burning the last remains of Neeraj Grover, they returned to Mumbai late at night on the same day.

In the backdrop, the family and friends of Neeraj kept on trying to contact him since he was found missing, i.e., from the evening of May 6 itself. They called on his phone more than a hundred times but could not connect with him. This compelled them to file the police report of him being missing. His friends and family suspected Maria Susairaj of his disappearance. The police initiated the inquiry against her the next day, and she stated that Neeraj did come to her place but he left her house at midnight to go to attend a party.

Clues leading to suspicion

The forensic examination team went to the house of Maria Susairaj for the investigation as the acquaintances of Neeraj pointed the needle of suspicion towards her. On examining every corner, and the bedroom of the house, the team found that the upholstery of the room including the curtains, bedsheets, and everything was newly bought. Moreover, a bloodstain could be seen on the latch of the door and a little bit of it at some other places too. The exercise of blood sampling was conducted and it turned out to be Neeraj’s blood. 

Secondly, when Maria lodged a police complaint in Malad police station on May 9, she told the police that Neeraj was missing from the night of May 6 when he last met her at her apartment. She also said that he forgot his mobile phone at her place. Subsequently, the phone records of Neeraj were studied. The cellphone records showed that an SMS was received by Neeraj’s phone on the evening of May 7, the day he was murdered in the morning. This is where Maria’s claims were found to be falsifying because she said that Neeraj left his phone at her place, but the SMS received on May 7, traced a different location i.e. at Dahisar Check Naka. 

As the level of suspicion rose, the police investigated the case more meticulously. The debit card records showed that she bought the upholstery stuff, a chopper, and a couple of duffel bags from a mall adjacent to her apartment on the morning of May 7. The investigation authorities also found that the car which she alleged to have borrowed didn’t actually belong to her neighbour. She admitted that she lied about the same for some unspecified reasons. The statements of the watchman of her society, and the petrol pump attendee from whom the couple bought petrol, cleared the way of suspicion and testified for the collected proofs. 

When she found herself blocked from all the directions, Susairaj finally confessed to the commission of murdering Neeraj Grover. On the basis of the confession made by Maria Susairj, the police arrested her fiance, Matthew. The trial went on for a few years until the decision was pronounced by the Mumbai Sessions Court. 

The verdict

In July 2011, Additional Sessions judge, M.W. Chandwani gave the decision in this appalling murder case. After analysing all the circumstances of the case and the witnesses and proofs collected from both sides, the judge held Emile Jerome Matthew guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 10 years. The Court held Maria Susairaj not guilty of murder, but she was penalised for the offence of destruction of evidence under Section 204 of the IPC and was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 3 years.

Matthew was held guilty of culpable homicide

Though Matthew killed Grover with the intention of causing his death, he was not held guilty of murder. He was held guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Let us see the difference between culpable homicide not amounting to murder and culpable homicide amounting to murder.

Culpable homicide has been defined under Section 299 of the IPC. The ingredients of Section 299 are :

  • The intention of causing death,
  • Bodily injury that is likely to cause death,
  • The knowledge that the act is likely to cause death.

Culpable homicide amounting to murder

Simply put, culpable homicide amounting to murder is the same as murder that has been defined under Section 300 of IPC. The ingredients of the same are as follows : 

  • The intention of causing death,
  • Bodily injury sufficient to cause death,
  • Bodily injury, which offender knows, to be likely to cause death,
  • The knowledge that the act is so imminently dangerous that, in all probability, death will be caused.

The ingredients of culpable homicide amounting to murder have been pointed out above and are given under Section 300 of IPC. 

Exceptions to culpable homicide not amounting to murder

It is pertinent to note here that there are certain exceptions given under Section 300, one of which has been applied to the present case. If the act by the offender falls under any of the exceptions given under this section, then he will be held guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The exceptions are listed below :

  • An act done in grave and sudden provocation,
  • Act done in private defence,
  • An act done by a public servant in the course of exercising his powers,
  • Act done without any premeditation in a sudden fight,
  • An act done where the victim himself consented to such an act.

In Neeraj Grover’s murder case, the Court observed that the act of murdering Neeraj was not a premeditated act. The Court has construed it to come within the ambit of the fourth exception to Section 300, listed above. If a person kills another with the intention of causing death but does the act in a fit of rage or in a sudden quarrel, then he will be held guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

In the case of Santokh Singh v. State of Punjab, (2009), and Arumugam v. State Rep by Inspector of Police TN, (2009), the respective Courts held that it is a question of fact and whether the quarrel is sudden or not must necessarily depend upon the proved facts of each case. In Neeraj Grover’s murder case, the facts explicitly show that the arguments took place between both Neeraj and Matthew which further induced Matthew to take a knife and stab Neeraj. This act attracts the guilt of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, being an exception to Section 300. Hence, Matthew was punished under Section 304 which prescribes punishment for culpable homicide.

Conclusion

The murder of Neeraj Grover was unfortunate enough to call it a monstrous act of Maria and Matthew. Cutting down the dead remains of the deceased in order to make it easy to dump it is a spine-tingling hideous act. At that time when the news of this incident recently broke, the media houses, in no time, reported it through their outlets. The public was also enraged at the disgrace of humanity through this appalling act. 

Many people, especially the acquaintances of Grover, were not happy with the decision of the Court. They wanted that the murderer must be given the death penalty or at least the punishment of life imprisonment. They alleged that this murder was a result of the criminal conspiracy between Maria and Matthew.  But, as he was found guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, he was punished accordingly. This case has also been presented before the world through a movie of 2011, named “Not a love story”. It is still a subjective call for the people whether they think that justice was delivered to Neeraj Grover or not, but whatever it seems to them, it cannot be denied that this murder case has been added to the list of the most terrifying murder stories of India. 

References

  1. Baghel, M. (2011). Death in Mumbai: A true story. Noida: Random House India.
  2. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai/verdict-based-on-susairaj-s-statements/story-47f3yPKcaz3CcBoYDaLXJK.html 
  3. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/west/story/neeraj-grover-murder-case-maria-susairaj-and-her-boyfriend-found-guilty-136580-2011-06-30 

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