In an unexpected turn in the Nithari killings, businessman Moninder Singh Pandher escaped the murder charge while his servant Surender Koli was booked by the CBI for murder, rape and kidnapping.
Filing its first chargesheet in the gory killings of women and children, CBI slapped on 60-year-old Pandher lesser charges like procuring call girls, indulging in prostitution, bribing police officials and destruction of evidence.
The 33-page chargesheet, the first in connection with 19 cases registered by the CBI, was filed in the designated court of Sapna Mishra in Ghaziabad on Thursday.
The CBI, which took over investigations from the Uttar Pradesh police in January, said Koli was a necrophiliac or one who is interested in having sex with dead bodies, and suffered from necrophagia, a disorder in which a person eats human flesh.
The CBI faced a flurry of questions at a press conference about why it was giving a "clean chit" to Pandher and how he could be unaware of the grisly killings committed in his house in Noida on the outskirts of Delhi.
CBI Joint Director Arun Kumar said the probe so far had revealed that Pandher was not in his house when Koli committed 16 murders and that he was unaware of the killings.
The CBI finding sent shockwaves among the people of Nithari, who are contemplating petitioning President APJ Abdul Kalam on the ground that the agency was "protecting" Pandher.