Ghaziabad’s designated CBI judge Rama Jain, who was conducting a three-year-old trial into Nithari serial killings, has been transferred.
Jain’s transfer to Sultanpur District Court in Uttar Pradesh comes a time when the high-profile case involving rape and killing of 19 children and women at Nithari village in Noida is poised at a critical juncture.
The additional district sessions judge had already given her verdict in one of these cases in February this year; had reserved judgment in another case in April, while 14 other cases were in an advanced stage of trial.
Lawyer Khalid Khan, who represents families of a few victims, said he was “dismayed” with the judge’s transfer.
On February 13, Jain had awarded death to businessman Moninder Singh Pandher (a dealer in earthmoving equipment) and his domestic help Surendra Koli for rape, murder and cannibalising (Koli is the accused) of 14-year-old Rimpa Halder four years ago.
Her verdict was debated in legal circles since the CBI had submitted evidence — including passport details authenticated by the Centre — showing that Pandher was in Australia when Halder was killed.
Pandher has challenged the sentence in the Allahabad High Court, along with Koli. The high court recently ordered that his petition would be heard on a daily basis starting July 7.
Jain had reserved verdict in the case of Aarti Prasad (8), who was murdered two years ago at a time when Pandher “was
away in Faridabad”, according to the charge sheet, and had suo motu directed former Noida police’s probe officer Dinesh Yadav to depose in the court.
Yadav’s submission, showing that “a saw was recovered from D-5 at the instance of Pandher and Koli”, had earlier clinched Pandher’s fate in the Halder case.
The CBI had filed 16 chargesheets in her court, while the agency’s probe into three other cases are yet to be wrapped up.
The cases involved murder, cannibalising and rape/attempted rape of the victims allegedly by Surendra Koli (34) at D-5 during 2005-2006. The CBI had held Koli responsible for rape/murder in its 16 charge sheets.
Yet, based on applications moved by families of the victims, the court had directed the CBI to charge Pandher in six cases.