New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought response of Nithari serial killings case convict Surender Koli on a plea of the Uttar Pradesh government against the Allahabad High Court verdict that commuted his death penalty to life term earlier this year.
A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices Amitava Roy and Arun Mishra issued notice to Koli on the UP government's petition against the high court order that had rapped it up for “inordinate delay” in deciding Koli's mercy petition.
On January 28, this year, the Allahabad High Court had commuted the death sentence, awarded to Koli, to life term in the murder of 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar.
Koli was sentenced to death by a special CBI court in Ghaziabad on February 13, 2009. The high court had passed the order while allowing a PIL filed by People's Union for Democratic Rights, clubbed with another petition filed by Koli himself.
Both the petitions had questioned the constitutionality of the execution of the death sentence in the light of the fact that Koli has been in jail for more than seven years and that the time taken in deciding his mercy petition alone was “three years and three months”, violative of the Right to Life granted in Article 21 of the Constitution.
Rimpa's murder came to light in December 2006, when many children from Nithari went missing over a period of time and skeletons were recovered from near the residence of Koli's employee, Noida-based businessman Moninder Singh Pandher.
The high court had come down heavily on the UP government, saying that out of the three years and three months which elapsed in deciding Koli's mercy petition, “as many as 26 months” were taken up by the Uttar Pradesh government itself, which was “unnecessary and unreasonable”.
“Prolonged detention and the consequent wait for execution of death sentence is dehumanising for the person concerned and violates Article 21 of the Constitution,” the court had said.
Koli had filed his mercy petition before the Governor on May 7, 2011, which was rejected only on April 2, 2013, and forwarded to the Union Home Ministry on July 19, 2013, after the elapse of nearly three months.
Both Koli and Pandher were named as accused in the serial killings and awarded death sentence in the Rimpa Haldar case.
However, on September 11, 2009 the Allahabad High Court acquitted Pandher and upheld the conviction of Koli while making it clear that the judgement shall have no bearing on trial in other related cases.
Koli moved the Supreme Court but his appeal against the trial court order was rejected following which he filed his mercy petition. After the rejection of mercy petition, Koli had filed a recall application before the Supreme Court but it was also turned down.
On October 31, 2014, three days after the review petition of Koli was turned down by the apex court, the PUDR approached the high court with the PIL.