The lawyer who defended M.S. Pandher — facing a death sentence in the Nithari killings case — and gave him another life is the man who, as a judge of the Delhi High Court, sentenced many to death.
Sixty-four-year-old Justice R.S. Sodhi had hit the headlines on October 30, 2006 when the bench headed by him awarded death to Santosh Kumar Singh, the lawyer who raped and killed Priyadarshini Mattoo — his friend in the law college.
It was Sodhi again who had reversed a trial court's acquittal of Manu Sharma, the son of a high-profile politician by the trial court in the Jessica Lall murder case and awarded him life sentence.
Pandher's was the first major brief Sodhi took up after retiring as a judge on November 7, 2007. On his feeling after getting him acquitted, Sodhi told Hindustan Times: “I am happy that once again I have been able to further the ends of justice.”
“This was one case where the public wanted his (Pandher's) flesh and blood. And for me it was the biggest challenge to get him out of this case. If his capital punishment would have been retained, justice would have been defeated,” he said
“You cannot send people to the gallows on the basis of public opinion. One has to judge them in accordance with the evidence on record.”
The former judge said it was wrong to convict Pandher for criminal conspiracy (IPC 120B) saying he "must have known" about what was happening in his house.