Punjabi businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his servant Surinder Koli, both accused in the Nithari serial killings, were pronounced guilty of murder and rape of a 14-year-old girl, leaving the CBI red faced as it had given a cleat chit to the entrepreneur.
Pandher (55) and Koli (38), who have been in judicial custody since January 2007, were produced in the jam-packed court of Rama Jain, Special CBI Judge, who pronounced the duo guilty of murder, rape, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence.
The quantum of punishment would be pronounced tomorrow, the judge said after delivering a 55-page verdict. The sentence can be death by hanging or life imprisonment.
Moninder Singh Pandher being brought to the Ghaziabad court
CBI filed chargesheet in this case on May 19, 2007 in which the agency while giving clean chit to
Pandher, had charged Koli of raping and murdering Rimpa Halder at the house of businessman at Nithari in Noida on the outskirts of Delhi. Koli was suffering from necrophilia (having sex with dead bodies) and also charged with cannibalism (eating human flesh).
Rimpa was first of the victims who was brutally killed on February eight 2005 and her body was found hacked. The evidence in this case was the recovery of Rimpa's clothes from the D-5 house where Koli was a domestic help. The clothes were identified by the mother of the victim. The DNA samples from Rimpa's clothes had also matched with the blood sample of her mother, father and brother. During the probe, Koli identified the buttons of Rimpa's dress.
In its chargesheet, the CBI had mentioned that Pandher was in Australia with his wife when the incident had taken place and also attached his passport details. Rejecting the CBI contention, the judge convicted both of them.
As the judge pronounced them guilty of murder and rape, Pandher and Koli reacted in opposite manner. While Pandher sobbed, Koli's face was devoid of any expression.
Special CBI judge Rama Jain's judgement saying "Maine dono abhiyukton Surinder Koli aur Moninder Singh Pandher ko doshi paya hai" (I've found both the accused guilty) was greeted by intense clapping from the people present in the room.
Pandher was found guilty under IPC sections 302, 376, 201 and 120B, whereas Koli was convicted under sections 302, 376, 364 and 511. The section 302 calls for the execution of the culprits or life imprisonment if found guilty of murder whereas, section 376 punishes a person for a term not less than seven years and maximum life imprisonment for committing a rape. Pandher was charged with causing disappearance of evidence of offence and giving false information (section 201) and hatching criminal conspiracy (section 120B).
Surender Koli, Moninder Singh Pandher's servant, at the Ghaziabad court
Koli was charged with the kidnapping or abducting in order to murder (Section 364) and for attempting to commit offenses which are punishable with imprisonment for life (section 511). Koli gave his confessional statement under section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code before a magistrate in this case.
Ghaziabad court premises were turned into a virtual fortress with heavy deployment of security personnel. People from all walks of life including parents of three victims were eagerly waiting for the first judgement in the case in which 19 women and children were raped and murdered.
The small court room was full more than half an hour before the judgement was to be pronounced. Jain walked into the room at 3.55 pm after which the accused were produced in the room.
Pandher, clad in a white ensemble, looked confident as CBI did not file any charge sheet against him. Koli, wearing a grey pullover and navy blue trouser also seemed to be cool and composed. As Jain read out the judgement, Pandher could not control his emotions and broke down. Pandher's son Karanjeet Singh and wife were also present during the judgement. His wife also broke into tears while the verdict was pronounced.
Koli was party to the proceedings in a very quiet manner, probably expecting the worst.
Following is the Chronology of Events of the Nithari Serial Killing:
- December 29, 2006: Nithari Killings came to light with the discovery of
15 skeletal remains of children and fragments of clothes stuffed in gunny
bags from the drain behind bungalow number D-5 in Noida's Sector 31,
adjacent to Nithari village. Two suspects- owner of the house Moninder Singh Pandher and his
domestic help Surinder Koli arrested.
- December 30, 2006: More skeletons tumble out of the drainage.
Police probed the possibility of human organ trafficking.
- December 31, 2006: Five policemen were suspended for mishandling
the investigation after parents had complained almost two years ago that
their children had gone missing.
- January 01, 2007: Policemen and villagers clashed over the gory
killings. Police questioned Pandher's family in Chandigarh.
- January 02, 2007: Uttar Pradesh (UP) authorities distributed
Rs.200,000 to each of the eight families of the 12 identified victims, along
with a blanket and a 10 kg sack of flour. The remains of the victims were
sent to the forensic labs in Agra and Hyderabad.
- January 03, 2007: The central government appointed a four-member
panel to probe the killings. Then chief justice Y.K. Sabharwal rejected the
demand for a CBI probe saying the case was being probed by several other
agencies, including the UP police. The UP government increased the
compensation amount from Rs.200,000 to Rs.500,000. A senior superintendent
of police and superintendent of police were suspended.
- January 04, 2007: The state government rejected the demand for a
CBI probe, while then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's brother Shivpal
Singh Yadav said "such incidents keep happening".
- January 05, 2007: After three days of silence, hundreds of Nithari
villagers came out on the streets and demanded justice even as the two
accused were taken to Gujarat for a narco-analysis test. The accused taken to Gandhinagar for
extensive narco-analysis test by UP police. The UP government finally
ordered a CBI inquiry.
- January 10, 2007: CBI takes over investigations in the case.
Police suspected cannibalism for the first time.
- January 11, 2007: First CBI team visits Nithari to initiate probe in the case. 30 more bones found
near the house.
- January 12, 2007: Moninder Singh Pandher and Surinder Koli quizzed by CBI.
- January 20, 2007: UP Government files report to National Human Rights Commission
- January 25, 2007: A group of lawyers and bystanders
attacked Pandher and Koli when they were being taken to a court in Ghaziabad,
next to Noida.
- January 27, 2007: The investigating agencies ruled out
the possibility of organ trade as the motive for the killings.
- February 08, 2007: Special CBI court sends Moninder Singh Pandher and Surinder Koli to 14 days of
- February 13, 2007: The CBI said bones were of 4 women and 15
children. The UP police had already registered 19 cases.
- March 01, 2007: Koli recorded his confessional statement in a Delhi
- March 22, 2007: CBI files first chargesheet in the case in the Ghaziabad court.
Gives a clean chit to Pandher but indicted Koli as a cannibal, charging him
with rape of 20-year-old Payal. CBI joint director Arun Kumar said Koli
cooked a breast of the first women he murdered and ate it. He ate the arm of
the second women, the liver of his third victim, Kumar said and added that
Pandher was not in the house at the time of the killings.
- April 10, 2007: The CBI filed second charge sheet in the killing of
20-year-old Pinki Sarkar. Koli charged with abduction, rape and murder.
Pandher spared again.
- April 24, 2007: Third charge sheet filed in the killing of
five-year-old Payal. Koli charged, Pandher again spared of killings.
- May 01, 2007 : Parents of three victims of the Nithari serial killings move court against the CBI
for letting off main accused Pandher in connection with kidnapping and murder.
- May 11, 2007 : Ghaziabad court asks CBI to probe Pandher's role in the killings.
- September 06, 2007: Body of Jatin Sarkar, father of one of the victims in the Nithari serial killings
recovered from a river in West Bengal's Murshidabad district.
- November 01, 2007: The Supreme Court issues a notice to the CBI on the allegation by a relative of a
victim that the investigating agency was trying to shield Pandher.
- December 13, 2007: Special CBI Court in Ghaziabad frames charges against Moninder Singh Pandher for
the rape and murder of two teenagers.