Justice had prevailed with the Allahabad High Court's acquittal of Noida businessman Moninder Singh Pandher in the rape and murder of a teenage girl, the family and lawyer of the key accused in the sensational Nithari killings said in New Delhi on Friday.
"I am very happy. Finally, justice has prevailed. An innocent man has been acquitted," said Pandher's son Karandeep Pandher.
"It is a happy day. We will celebrate the day my father is out," Karandeep told IANS after the Allahabad High Court overturned the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court's Feb 13 verdict sentencing the businessman and his domestic help Surendra Koli for raping and killing 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar of Nithari village near Noida four years ago.
She was one of the 19 young women and children from Nithari village in Noida area whose body parts were found in a drain behind Pandher's bungalow in December 2006.
"This is one case where the public wanted his (Pandher's) blood and flesh. And for me it was the biggest challenge to get him out of this case. If his capital punishment would have been there, justice would have been defeated," Pandher's lawyer and former Delhi High Court chief justice RS Sodhi told IANS.
"As far as this case (Haldar's) is concerned, I took it as a challenge and proved that there was no evidence against Pandher. There is undoubted excitement in the family (of Pandher). They are relieved but at the same time victims may not be happy," he admitted.
Haldar's case was the first of the 19 cases of abduction, rape and murder of four women and 15 children, mostly girls; the CBI had probed in what are collectively termed the Nithari killings.
The CBI has filed chargesheets in 16 cases. They are being heard separately. While Koli has been charged with rape, abduction and murder in all the cases, Pandher is co-accused in six.
Sodhi, who has presided over high profile case like the murder case of model Jessica Lall and Delhi University Law student Priyadarshani Mattoo, was approached to defend Pandher only in Haldar's case.
Referring to Koli, Sodhi said: "Koli has the best lawyer to represent him in the court. But his case was more complicated. His confession statements, recoveries made after his statements were enough to nail him in the case. But I still say it is not easy to convict Koli as well."