Following the eighth conviction in the 2006 ‘Nithari killings case’, a special CBI court in Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) has convicted and sentenced to death Moninder Singh Pandher and his former domestic help, Surinder Koli, for the murder of Pinky Sarkar.
Koli has been convicted and sentenced to the death penalty in all seven cases.
The special CBI court judge convicted them on charges of murder, abduction, attempted rape and destruction of evidence in the eighth case
The case relates to the discovery of partial remnants of 19 corpses (including those of minors)around Pandher’s residence in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. The CBI had been roped in to probe what appeared to be a serial murder case and has filed 14 separate cases in which eight have seen convictions as yet.
Apart from the first trial, this is the second conviction where both have been convicted and sentenced though Pandher was acquitted subsequently.
According to the CBI chargesheet, Sarkar, who was then a domestic help elsewhere in Noida had gone missing after completing her tasks in a house where she worked.
In the first case, both were accused and had similarly been convicted and handed death penalties.
The Allahabad High Court had acquitted Pandher but confirmed Koli's death sentence which was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court as well.
Shortly after a review was rejected, a ‘black warrant’ was issued. Though other legal remedies were still available to Koli, he was about to be executed when his lawyers in the SC rushed to judges at midnight and virtually pulled him back from the gallows.
It was also argued that Koli, though sentenced in one case, was a prime witness in the others, including against Pandher and carrying out the death sentence before all trials are complete might impeded the process of justice delivery.
The CBI has consistently held that Koli lured victims to Pandher’s house where he attempted rape and later dismembered their body parts. These were later packed in bags and thrown in the backyard.
Pandher's lawyer has said that his client was not present in the house during an estimated date of the murders in October 2006.
He had also argued that Pandher's name did not figure in the CBI chargesheet as an accused.
The bulk of the testimony is based on a confession of Koli, which has been challenged in higher courts. Koli has claimed that he made the confessions under duress and alleged that he was tortured before being produced for statements to the magistrate.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine