Death row convict Surinder Koli’s lawyer will argue that the infamous Nithari killings may have been part of an organ trading operation run out of a neighbouring house rather than rape or murder during his final Supreme Court appeal on Tuesday.
The fresh defence, based on the findings of a government report, could give a new twist to Koli’s culpability in the case and draw attention to a widespread illegal organ trade that was operating out of Nithari village in Noida.
Koli was sentenced to death following the grisly killing of about 14 children whose remains were found in a drain outside his employer Moninder Singh Pandher’s house in Nithari in 2006.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) accused Koli and Pandher of raping and murdering the children in a case that shocked the entire nation.
But, Koli’s lawyer in the Supreme Court, Yug Choudhry, told Hindustan Times that the CBI did not look into a women and child development (WCD) ministry report that found the bodies could have been part of a wider illegal organ harvesting conspiracy.
“So far, Koli has been found guilty in one case and that too on the basis of a confession,” said Choudhry, who discovered the report just two months ago after he took up the case.
“The WCD committee, which also had senior officials from the centre and the state government, clearly suspected an illegal organ trade operation but the CBI never investigated this report.”
The high-powered committee that was set up in January 2007 had specifically recommended the need to look at organ transplant records of all hospitals in Noida over a few years “to study the pattern and trend of these operations”.
Many of the committee’s doubts rose from the testimony of Dr Vinod Kumar, medical superintendent of the Noida hospital where the Nithari-post mortems were carried out.
Dr Kumar noticed that the middle parts of all the bodies were missing, which gave rise to the suspicion that “wrongful use of bodies for organ sale could be possible”.
The committee also found that the bodies were cut with surgical precision which the uneducated Koli was incapable of doing. Dr. Kumar also said that organs of small children were in demand for transplant for babies/children.
“There are certain aspects that need to be further investigated,” said the report. “The CBI should look into all angles including organ trade, sexual exploitation and other forms of crimes against women and children.”
The CBI spokesperson did not comment on the issue.