Families of five victims of what is known as the Nithari killings case will soon approach the designated special court in Ghaziabad to get the charge of criminal conspiracy framed against the main accused, domestic help Surendra Koli.
Though the fresh legal move is aimed against Koli, whose death sentence in one of the Nithari cases—the rape and murder of schoolgirl Rimpa Halder in February 2005—was confirmed by the Allahabad high court on September 11, it would seek to impact the fate of former Noida businessman Moninder Singh Pandher who is a co-accused in five of the Nithari murder cases.
The lack of the charge of criminal conspiracy against Koli in the Halder case, according to lawyers representing the families of victims, had allegedly resulted in the recent acquittal in the case of Pandher by the Allahabad high court.
"We have analysed the Allahabad high court order acquitting Pandher in the Rimpa Halder case,” said lawyer Khalid Khan who represents Halder's and four other families of the victims.
“We made a mistake by not getting Koli framed under the charge of criminal conspiracy along with Pandher since you need two accused to prove a charge of conspiracy."
"We will now move the court to get Koli framed under the charge of criminal conspiracy as well," he added.
Khan said he would submit an application in the special court requesting it to "add criminal conspiracy charge against Koli under section 216 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)."
The Ghaziabad court had on July 16, 2007 ordered that Pandher be made co-accused in six cases, including of Halder's. The Nithari killing's probe agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has till now submitted charge sheets in 16 of the 19 cases, in which it held Koli solely responsible for the kidnapping, attempted rape and killings.
According to CrPC' section 216, "Any court may alter or add to any charge at any time before judgment is pronounced." The section however also says it "may either direct a new trial or adjourn the trial for such period as may be necessary" if it is of the opinion that altered charge might "prejudice the accused or the prosecutor."