Nithari Case: Moninder Singh Pandher, Surender Koli sentenced to death for serial rape and murder

Nithari Case: Moninder Singh Pandher, Surender Koli sentenced to death for serial rape and murder

In Nithari case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court has found businessmen Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic helper Surender Koli guilty of rape, murder, abduction, tampering with evidence and criminal conspiracy over the killing of a 20-year-old woman. Both of them has been sentenced to death by the court as the court observed this case as the ‘rarest of rare’ case. The Nithari case shook the entire country when it was exposed in 2005.

The judge also slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 on Koli under Section 302, a further 10 years for abduction with intention to murder and Rs 10,000 fine, 10 years jail under Sections 376 (rape)and 511 (attempt to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life) and a Rs 10,000 fine and seven year jail term and Rs 5,000 fine under Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence). All the terms of imprisonment would be increased for failure to pay the fines.

Pandher was slapped a Rs 10,000 fine under Section 302, a seven year jail term along with Rs 10,000 fine under Sections 376 and 511 and seven years jail and Rs 5,000 fine under Section 201. All jail terms would be increased for failing to pay the fines.

The case, the eighth of the several lodged against them, was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on December 29, 2006. Koli and Pandher were present in the court during the sentencing. Pandher was earlier out on bail but was taken into police custody on Saturday after being held guilty.

Prosecution lawyer J.P. Sharma sought the death sentence and argued that forensic evidence proved that Koli abducted, killed and raped the woman and also tampered with evidence. Since Pandher was in collusion with his domestic help, so he deserved the same punishment for the crime rarest of rare, he said.

Also seeking the death penalty for both the convicts, lawyer Khalid Khan, appearing for the victim’s family, alleged that police had been lax from the beginning and therefore the woman’s family had engaged him in the case. On October 5, 2006, the woman was returning home from work. She took the road outside Pandher’s residence.

Koli lured her inside where she was killed and beheaded. Investigators found her skull behind the house, and its DNA matched with her parents. Her parents also identified her clothes, which were recovered from Koli. Defence lawyer Devraj Singh pleaded for minimum punishment as Pandher suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes.

He also said it has been proved that on that date of the crime, he was in Dehradun. Claiming that Pandher had been denied justice since in an earlier case, he was acquitted by the Allahabad High Court. He also noted that the Supreme Court had found Koli guilty of the crime, not Pandher.

The gruesome cases came to light in 2006 when the police discovered the skulls and bones of 16 persons, mostly children, near Pandher’s house in Noida’s Nithari village. Earlier, many children had gone missing from the nearby slums of Nithari and their parents alleged that police had ignored their complaints.

It was alleged that Koli would lure the children to the house, offering them sweets and chocolates, murder them and have sex with the corpses. He was also accused of cannibalism. He would throw the bones and other belongings into a ditch behind the house.

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Shubham Jain