The Allahabad High Court on Friday acquitted businessman Moninder Singh Pandher of charges of involvement in the rape and murder of a domestic help, whose death and 18 others are together called the Nithari Killings. Nithari killings: A timeline
But the court upheld the conviction of co-accused Surendra Koli, who was Pandher’s domestic help, in the same case. And confirmed the death sentence given to him by a trial court in February 2009.
Pandher now faces charges in five more cases. But the acquittal might swing those in his favour too, said Khalid Khan, lawyer representing victim Rimpa Halder’s family. They will be challenging the acquittal in the Supreme Court.
Pandher’s son, Karandeep Pandher, said, “I’m so glad my father has finally got justice.” The father is in a jail in Dasna, near Noida, and will remain there till the conclusion of the remaining cases.
Rimpa was raped and killed at Pandher’s house in Nithari, a semi-urban settlement in Noida, on February 8, 2005. Over the next few months 18 more girls and women were raped and killed there.
The bodies were chopped into small parts and dumped outside the house in the drain, which is how the killings came to light. Koli has been charged with eating body parts of some of the victims.
The CBI, which was given the case as the police were found to have ignored many signs and complaints of girls missing from the area, filed chargesheets in 16 of the 19 cases.