Allahabad High Court Acquits Prime Accused in Nithari Killings, Cites Flaws in CBI Investigation

LI Network

Published on: October 18, 2023 at 16:30 IST

The Allahabad High Court, in a bench led by Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice Syed Aftab Husain Rizvi, has overturned the conviction and death sentence of Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help, Surendra Koli, in the Nithari killings case. T

he Court delivered a stern critique of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), highlighting that the focus on domestic servant Surendra Koli as the sole perpetrator overshadowed the possibility of organized organ trading being the true motive behind the crimes.

The Court expressed its disapproval of the CBI’s investigation and emphasized that it failed to consider the potential involvement of organized organ trading.

In this regard, the Court stated, “It appears to us that the investigation opted for the easy course of implicating a poor servant of the house by demonizing him, without taking due care of probing more serious aspects of possible involvement of organized activity of organ trading.”

The Nithari killings occurred between 2005 and 2006 and came to public attention when human remains, including skeletons, were discovered near a residence in Nithari, Noida, in December 2006. Investigations revealed that Moninder Singh Pandher owned the house, and Surendra Koli worked as his domestic help. Subsequently, both individuals were accused in the First Information Reports (FIRs) related to these crimes.

The CBI took charge of the case and filed 16 cases against Koli, charging him with offenses such as murder, abduction, rape, and tampering with evidence. Pandher was also charged in one case related to immoral trafficking. Due to appeals from the victims’ families, Pandher was summoned to appear in five additional cases by the Ghaziabad court.

The Court expressed its disappointment at the manner in which the killings were investigated. The Court noted that the “procedure required to be followed for recording the accused’s disclosure leading to recovery of biological remains… has been given a complete go-by.” It criticized the casual and perfunctory handling of crucial aspects of arrest, recovery, and confession.

The Court was shocked by the recording of the confession 60 days after police remand without a medical examination of the accused, providing legal aid, and ignoring specific allegations of torture in the confession. The failure to comply with the requirements of Section 164 Cr.P.C. was deemed a grave oversight.

The Court also condemned the lack of investigation into the potential involvement of organ trade, considering it a breach of public trust. It stated that “loss of life of young children and ladies is a matter of serious concern… but that, in itself, would not justify denial of a fair trial to the accused nor would it justify their punishment even in the absence of evidence to implicate them.”

The Court further observed that the investigation was flawed, and fundamental norms of evidence collection were brazenly violated.

In conclusion, the Court held that a fair trial had eluded the accused in the case and that the prosecution had failed to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt based on circumstantial evidence.

The acquittal in this case raises questions about the initial investigation and the need for a more comprehensive examination of all potential leads in cases of this nature.

Case Title: Surendra Koli vs State Through Central Bureau of Investigation

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