In a setback for the CBI, which had claimed all along that Moninder Singh Pandher had no knowledge about the rapes and murders committed at his house in Noida, a special court here ordered the framing of additional charges against Pandher in the Payal murder case. Payal was one of the victims in the Nithari serial killings.
The special CBI court ordered framing of additional charges against Pandher for murder, abduction, rape and destruction of evidence.
It fixed September 18 as the date for framing the charges.
Pandher had not been charged with either rape or murder in any of the charge sheets filed by the CBI so far. The CBI reacted by saying that it was the court’s prerogative to frame charges and that the agency would assist the judiciary in every possible way.
Khalid Khan, the counsel for Nithari victims said, “An application under Section 216 of the CrPC was moved on behalf of Nand Lal in the Payal murder case last month for the inclusion of charges of murder, abduction, rape, destruction of evidence against Pandher. The application was based on Nand Lal’s statement recorded before the court, where he had stated that Pandher had confessed his crime before him.”
Khan said that the court found grounds prima facie to add the additional charges. “Pandher could now be convicted for life imprisonment if found guilty and could even be awarded the death penalty. If the trial had continued as per the sections CBI had earlier charged him with, he may have received just 4 to 5 years,” added Khan.
Pandher’s advocate, Manoj Gupta, told HT that they would challenge the order in the high court. “The order has been passed on the basis of complainant Nand Lal’s statement in which he has stated that Pandher in his presence had confessed his crime before Dinesh Yadav, who was the then circle officer. This could not be corroborated with other evidence and the court passed its order even before we could cross examine Nand Lal.”
Lal said: “This has given us hope for justice. We have full faith in the court. However, CBI and Noida Police have disappointed us.” Relatives of other Nithari victims were jubilant too. “The decision has come at a time when we had lost hope. The mysterious death of Jatin Sarkar had shaken us. The CBI court order has given us more energy,” a relative said.