It has been seven years since the gruesome Nithari killings came to light, but 11 out of 16 cases are still under trial at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Ghaziabad.
The CBI had pronounced Surinder Koli as the prime accused in 16 cases. He had allegedly abducted, sexually abused and murdered 16 minors. He had, then, disposed of their bodies in a drain behind house No. D-5 in Sector 31, Noida.
Many of the 11 cases are in advanced stage of trial. Verdict in the cases is being delayed as judge Shyam Lal, who was looking into these, retired on November 30 and the court awaits a new judge.
In a case related to the murder of a 14-year-old girl, a Ghaziabad court had awarded death penalty to Koli and his employer Moninder Singh Pandher on February 13, 2009. Pandher, later, challenged the verdict in the Allahabad high court, which acquitted him of all charges, while Koli’s punishment was upheld.
Investigation revealed that Koli had committed the crime from February 2005 to November 2006. Skulls and skeletal remains of the victims were found from the drain.
The killings evoked a massive public outrage, after which the case was transferred to the CBI in January 2007. The CBI had registered 19 cases and filed chargesheets for rape and murder in 16 cases against Koli.
Pandher summoned as co-accused
In its investigation, the CBI could not establish Pandher’s location at crime scene when the killings took place and chargesheeted him only in one case under the Immoral Trafficking Act. However, he was later summoned as a co-accused by the CBI court in six cases.
Since December 2006, Koli and Pandher are lodged in the Dasna jail. “It has been seven years since Pandher is in jail and five cases, where he has been summoned as a co-accused, are still pending. He was acquitted by the HC of all charges in the first case, but later the victim’s family moved the apex court. The hearing is still pending. During this period, his health has deteriorated considerably,” said RS Sodhi, Pandher’s lawyer.
Evidence and trial
During investigation, the CBI recovered 73 pieces of bones, 53 poly bags, containing biological material/ soft tissues and bones, hair and slippers of victims from areas around Pandher’s house. Many victims were identified through DNA profiling, while the identity of others was established through skull-imposition test.
The most important evidence against Koli in five cases, in which the court has pronounced its verdict, was his confessional statement recorded before a metropolitan magistrate in Delhi in March 2007 where he had confessed to have killed the victims.
Till date, Koli has not been able to hire a lawyer and the court has awarded him services of an amicus curie.
His case was represented by an amicus curie in four cases.