Explained: Acquittal of Moninder Pandher and Surendra Koli in Nithari Killings Involving Rape, Cannibalism, and Murder

Allahabad High Court Acquits Moninder Singh Pandher and Surendra Koli in Nithari Case Due to Lack of Evidence

The Allahabad High Court, in a recent verdict, acquitted the prime suspect, Surendra Koli, in the 2006 Nithari case, famously known as the 2005-2006 Noida serial murders case. Additionally, another accused, Moninder Singh Pandher, has also been acquitted by the court in two cases where he had previously been sentenced to death by the trial court. The primary reason for their acquittal cited by the Allahabad High Court was the lack of concrete evidence.

Notably, Surendra Koli and Moninder Singh Pandher had originally been sentenced to death on charges of rape and murder. Pandher was convicted in the Pinki Sarkar rape and murder case, along with several other cases of rape, murder, pornography, and even cannibalism.

The horrifying Nithari killings came to public attention with the discovery of skeletal remains of eight children from a drain behind Pandher’s house in Nithari, Noida, on December 29, 2006. Subsequent searches in the vicinity uncovered additional remains, predominantly belonging to missing children and young women from the area.

Within ten days, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) assumed control of the case, leading to the recovery of more human remains. While Moninder Singh Pandher remains incarcerated in a Noida jail, Surendra Koli is imprisoned in Ghaziabad.

Here’s a chronological overview of the events:

– 2006: Discovery of the Murders
The Noida serial murders, committed between 2005 and 2006, allegedly by Moninder Singh Pandher and his house-help, Surendra Koli, were brought to light when two Nithari village residents reported the location of children’s remains who had gone missing in the previous two years. These residents were also parents of missing daughters. Subsequently, more residents claimed to find decomposed remains in a drain, leading to police involvement. Anxious parents of missing children rushed to Nithari with photographs, and Koli, using the alias Satish, later confessed to killing six children and a 20-year-old woman, referred to as “Payal,” after sexually assaulting them. Both Pandher and Koli were arrested on December 29, 2006.

– 2007: Investigation Revelations and Confessions
The investigation uncovered disturbing elements, including child pornography and suspicions of an international child pornography ring. The police also found photographs of Pandher with nude children, later identified as his grandchildren. The police initially suspected an organ trade motive and even cannibalism. After brain mapping and narco analysis, Koli absolved his employer, Pandher, of direct involvement in the murders but stated that all deaths resulted from strangulation. Koli admitted to raping the victims and dismembering their bodies in his personal washroom. Pandher was described as a womanizer who was depressed.

– 2009: Convictions and Death Sentences
On February 13, 2009, both Koli and Pandher were convicted and sentenced to death by a special CBI court for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar, one of the victims. The case was classified as “rarest of rare,” resulting in both accused receiving the death penalty.

– 2014: Mercy Petitions Rejected
Pandher and Koli submitted mercy petitions after being sentenced to death. In 2014, then-President Pranab Mukherjee rejected their mercy petitions. However, the court stayed their execution in September of that year. The Supreme Court commuted Koli’s death sentence to life imprisonment.

– 2015: Death Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment
In January 2015, Surender Koli’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the Allahabad High Court due to the “inordinate delay” in deciding his mercy petition.

– 2017: Death Sentence Restored
A CBI special court in Ghaziabad once again awarded death sentences to Moninder Singh Pandher and Surendra Koli, this time in connection with the rape and murder of a 25-year-old domestic help. This marked the ninth case in which Koli was convicted and the third case in which both Pandher and Koli received convictions.

– 2022: Koli Receives Death Penalty
Surendra Koli was given the death penalty by a special CBI court in Ghaziabad for his involvement in murder charges. Moninder Singh Pandher received a seven-year prison sentence in the same case, alongside fines.

– 2023: Acquittal
The Allahabad High Court acquitted both Pandher and Koli, citing a lack of evidence for their convictions.

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