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  4. SC's Nithari case verdict raises serious questions on UP Police investigation process. All about the 2006 case

SC's Nithari case verdict raises serious questions on UP Police investigation process. All about the 2006 case

The judgement in the case brought back memories of the chilling crime targeting young girls that came to light with skeletal remains being found behind a Noida bungalow. However, the SC ruling now may only see the accused walking out of jail.

Nivedita Dash Edited By: Nivedita Dash @Nivedita0503 New Delhi Updated on: October 17, 2023 11:58 IST
Nithari case
Image Source : PTI Nithari case

Just like any other month of December, the last month of 2006 was also experiencing a chill in the weather. However, something horrible was waiting for the residents of Noida Sector 31. House D5, Sector-31 was about to reveal a tale of a horrific series of crimes involving cannibalism. However, on October 16, the Allahabad High Court acquitted domestic help Surendra Koli and his employer Moninder Singh Pandher in the sensational serial killings in which they were facing death sentence, holding that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt "beyond reasonable doubt" and that the investigation was “botched up”.

What was the case?

 In December 2006, two Nithari village residents reported they knew the location of the remains of children who had gone missing in the previous two years - the municipal water tank behind house D5, Sector-31, Noida. The residents suspected that their daughters, who went missing were killed inside the aforesaid house belonging to businessman Moninder Singh Pandher. Helper of the house Satish Koli later confessed to killing six children and a 14-year-old woman referred to as "Payal" after sexually assaulting them. On December 26 and 27 respectively, Koli's employer, Moninder Singh Pandher, and Koli were taken into custody by the police in connection with the disappearance of "Payal". After Koli's confession, the police started digging up the nearby land area and discovered the children's bodies.

Helper of the house Satish Koli later confessed to killing six children and a 14-year-old woman Payal after sexually assaulting them. On December 26 and 27 respectively, Koli's employer, Moninder Singh Pandher, and Koli were taken into custody by the police in connection with the disappearance of Payal. After Koli's confession, the police started digging up the nearby land area and discovered the children's bodies. As more body parts were dug up near the premises, hundreds of local residents descended on the spot and alleged that there was an organ trade connection to the grisly killings of young children. As many as 15 of the 17 skeletons discovered in the village were identified. Ten of them were identified by Koli when he was confronted with the photographs of the missing children. Five others were identified by family members after being shown belongings recovered from the scene.

What SC observed

"We are not satisfied with the judgment. This is not right. When someone killing several children gets acquitted, imagine what punishment will those get who kill just one or two people," said Jhabbu Lal (63) and Sunita Devi (60), who lost their daughter. Devi, busy ironing clothes but intermittently speaking to reporters, said, "We appeal to PM (Narendra) Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath that those who killed our children should be hanged." The high court observed that prosecution was based on the confessional statement given by Koli to the UP Police on December 29, 2006 but the procedure required to be followed for recording his disclosure leading to recovery of biological remains i.e. skulls, bones and skeleton etc. has been given a "complete go by". The casual and perfunctory manner in which important aspects of arrest, recovery and confession have been dealt with are most disheartening, to say the least.

"Prosecution evidence has kept changing with the stage of investigation and ultimately all explanations are furnished in the form of confession of accused SK (Surendra Koli), by throwing all possible safeguards to the winds. The bench said the manner in which the confession is recorded after 60 days of police remand without any medical examination of the accused; providing of legal aid; overlooking specific allegations of torture in the confession itself; failure to comply with the requirement of Section 164 Cr.P.C. is “shocking to say the least”.

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