The death sentence to Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surendra Koli has led to a legal debate with some saying they were opposed to capital punishment on principle while others said this was the copybook "rarest of rare" case warranting the gallows.
As news came in of a Ghaziabad court giving capital punishment to the two for the rape, murder and cannibalisation of 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar, lawyers debated the issue. It is the first verdict in the Nithari killings, in which the body parts of 19 children and young women were found behind Pandher's bungalow in suburban Noida in December 2006.
"I am in principle against death sentences. Here, if it is in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) - then the two must deserve it. At least Koli certainly deserved it, regarding Pandher, I am doubtful," Soli J. Sorabjee, former solicitor general of India, told IANS.
The CBI in its chargesheet in the gruesome murder of Haldar in May 2007 had exonerated 55-year-old Pandher of abduction, rape and murder saying he was not in the country at the time. Two months later, however, the court reprimanded the investigating agency and Pandher was made co-accused with Koli, 38.
Leading lawyer R.K. Naseem maintained that capital punishment was for the rarest of cases - and the Nithari killings did not qualify yet.