Former Delhi High Court judge R S Sodhi,always in the limelight for the sensational cases he tried,will represent Nithari accused Moninder Singh Pandher when the latter challenges a recent trial court verdict that has handed him a death sentence.
Now a Supreme Court lawyer,Justice (Retired) Sodhi had headed the criminal division bench that decided the appeals in cases such as the Red Fort shootout,the Jessica Lall murder and the murders of Naina Sahni,Priyadarshini Mattoo,Shashi Nath Jha and Lalit Suneja. The Jha case had implicated former Union minister Shibu Soren and Suneja’s murder involved don Babloo Srivastava. Sodhi has also pronounced the death sentence on many convicts,including Mattoo’s killer Santosh Singh.
Why Pandher,Newsline asked. Sodhi replied: Pandher’s son had approached me to bail out his father.
On the recent death sentence,Sodhi said: This judgement is nothing short of judicial abuse. You cannot send people to the gallows on the basis of public opinion. One has to judge him or her in accordance with legal provisions. One must also abide by the principles of the rule of law,which,I think,has been given a go by in the present case.
Accusing the trial court of acting in a biased manner,he questioned the decision to hold Pandher guilty of rape and murder in the Rimpa Haldar case. Pandher was not even in the country,he said.
Moreover,sleeping with women cannot be held a criminal offence. That is the only thing reportedly established during trial, Sodhi said.
There is no evidence that can directly link Pandher to the conspiracy and a mere suggestion that Pandher would have been in the know of these horrific crimes was not enough to invite a conviction,let alone a death penalty,Sodhi added.
Sodhi said it was imperative to bring forth these errors as the same judge will be trying Pandher in six other cases. He said: I hope justice and the rule of law prevails in the High Court because someone convicted wrongly for an offence is equally aggrieved as a victim of crime.