The Allahabad High Court on Monday granted bail to 60-year-old Moninder Singh Pandher in five cases related to the Nithari killings in Noida, in which minor girls and young women were allegedly lured, sexually assaulted and murdered by Pandher’s domestic help Surendra Koli inside his house in Sector-31, Noida.
While Koli has been sentenced to death and his mercy petition rejected, Pandher was acquitted in a case pertaining to 22-year-old Payal, daughter of Nand Lal, on September 11, 2009.
The disappearances and killings in Pandher’s house, D-5, Sector-31, were reported between June 2005 and December 2006, when several FIRs were filed against Koli and Pandher. However, the CBI did not chargesheet Pandher initially. He was also booked under lighter sections pertaining to harbouring an offender and screening him from police.
Later, several petitions filed before the special CBI court sought Pandher’s trial under charges of rape, murder, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy. The main ground of the accusation was that Pandher, a Chandigarh-based businessman, was a resident and the owner of the house where the alleged killings took place and Koli was his domestic help.
The five cases of kidnapping, rape and murder, in which Pandher has been granted bail include that of Karamveer’s daughter Madhu, Nand Lal’s daughter Payal, Jatin Sarkar’s daughter Pinki, Arun Sarkar’s niece Anjali and another young girl, daughter of Jhabbu Lal.
Passing almost identical orders in all the five cases, a single judge bench of Justice Bharat Bhushan recorded 10 reasons for granting bail to Pandher. The court directed that Pandher should submit his passport before the special CBI court, if he has already not done so.