Pandher had earlier been given a clean chit by the Central Bureau of Investigation; after Thursdays verdict,families of victims say there is fresh hope
In a verdict that left the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) red-faced,Special Judge Rama Jain on Thursday convicted businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surinder Koli for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar the first among the 19 cases registered in the Nithari serial killings.
The CBI had earlier given a clean chit to Pandher in all its chargesheets.
In a packed courtroom on Thursday,Justice Jain pronounced the verdict in hardly two minutes after taking her seat,bringing hope to Haldars parents. Both convicts were then whisked away to a high-security cell.
The court is scheduled to pronounce the quantum of sentence on Friday.
Koli was found guilty of kidnapping,rape and murder and other offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) punishable with life imprisonment or death. Pandher was convicted of the same offences together with criminal conspiracy (Section 120B) and destruction of evidence,under the IPC,Senior Public Prosecutor J P Sharma confirmed.
The day began in the court at 10.30 am with a pointed query from the judge to Pandher as to whether he had any knowledge of a confessional statement made by Koli also present at the time before a metropolitan magistrate. Pandher said he knew nothing about the statement, said Anil Behl,a counsel on the CBI panel. The second question she asked was about Pandhers relationship with Payal,one of the victims. Pandher had said he knew Payal, said Behl.
The verdict has now put a huge question mark on the CBIs early efforts to shift the entire blame to Koli for the crime committed on February 8,2005. The investigating agency had maintained that Pandher was in Australia when Haldar went missing. Devraj Singh,one of Pandhers lawyers,said he will appeal against the judgment in High Court.
Any criminal charges accompanied with a conspiracy clause could invite the same punishment as the charge itself. It could mean a lifer for Pandher for being a conspirator, said Sharma.
Haldar had left for Pandhers Sector 31 residence in Noida on February 8,2005 in place of her mother,a domestic help in the house,who had taken ill. She never returned home.
Pandher not accused in CBI chargesheet in Rimpa case
According to senior public prosecutor,J P Sharma,Pandher was not an accused in the chargesheet filed by the CBI in the Rimpa Haldar case.
The court took suo motu cognizance of the statements given to court by the parents of the victim. On the basis of the accusations made by the parents,the court might have found Pandher guilty of conspiring against the victim, said the CBI counsel.
According to the CBI counsel,Anil Haldar had told the court that the day Pandher and Koli were arrested,he went to D-5 where Pandher had told the Noida Police that he had asked Koli to bring children as he could not sleep well at night, said Sharma.
Sharma also told Newsline that till now the court has made Pandher an accused in six cases regarding the Nithari Killings. He also said that till now,the CBI has examined 386 witnesses in the 13 cases related to the Nithari killings. ENS
Renuka Chowdhury on January 2008:
Well create a database of missing children based on the records that we get from the states. Weve asked the state governments to send us data on missing children and also find out why the laws in this regard are not being implemented. For example in Nithari,the first of the missing persons cases,was not registered, said Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury.
As on February 2009,the proposed database is still in the pipeline and the Chowdhury has refused to talk about it.
CBIs hi-tech DNA profiling plan
Soon after news of the Nithari surfaced,the CBI had said it would seek private investment to fund a hi-tech facility to identify bodies through DNA profiling. The proposal,conceived by CBI DIG Shatrujit Kapur,envisioned a national database of missing persons. Vidya Krishnan