A CBI court in Ghaziabad Monday handed the death penalty to Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surinder Koli in the kidnapping, rape and murder of 20-year-old Pinki Sarkar — the last victim of the 2006 Nithari serial killings. Pronouncing its verdict, the court called it a “rarest of rare” case, where the accused had shown tendencies not seen “even in animals”.
This is the eighth Nithari case in which a court has passed judgment. Eight cases are still pending in court.
Noting that the case had stirred the “collective conscience” of the society, Special Judge Pawan Kumar Tiwari said that “such criminals” do not have the “right to live” in this country, adding that cases like these impact the nation’s “image”.
“It should not be forgotten that incidents of murder and rape are increasing, due to which the country’s image is getting affected,” said the order, articulating the need for “the most harsh sentence” to ensure that “any person thinks a thousand times” before committing such a crime. The court further reasoned that in this case, getting the “most harsh punishment” was “apt, reasonable, relevant and expedient” as the sentence would be “proportional to the crime”.
The court said the two continued to “not feel any remorse for their crime”, while noting that any chance for the two to “be rehabilitated is next to impossible”.
This is only the second time that Pandher has been convicted in any of the Nithari murders. The last time he was convicted was in 2009, by the CBI court in Ghaziabad. However, the Allahabad High Court had acquitted him, citing “lack of evidence”. In this case, too, the CBI’s initial chargesheet did not name Pandher as an accused, and it was only later that he was summoned by the court under Section 319 of the CrPC.
Koli’s conviction is under IPC sections 302 (murder), 364 (kidnapping), 376 (rape) and 201 (destruction of evidence). Pandher has been convicted under IPC sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape), 201 (destruction of evidence), to be read along with Section 120B (criminal conspiracy).
In the order, the court said that Pandher was “involved in this inhumane, atrocious, cruel, heinous and illegal act” and that “he ignored his basic responsibilities and was involved in this criminal conspiracy… which traumatised the country and society”.
The court reiterated that Koli would “lure girls and women” into the house in “a planned manner” following which he would “rape, or attempt to rape them”.
“Even animals do have this tendency. Hence, such criminals do not have a right to live in this beautiful and great country… For this… act, there is one voice in the society — ‘hang them, hang them’. The most harsh sentence is necessary for such criminals so that an affirmative message goes to the society,” the court said.
Pandher’s counsel Devraj Singh said they would appeal the order at the Allahabad High Court.
Mother hopes judgment ‘brings peace’
Sonu Sarkar has stopped coming for the trials. He was 19 when his sister, Pinki Sarkar, had died. Now he takes care of her son and their mother. “There is no hope or vindication”, he said after the order on Monday.
In 2006, Pinki’s son was a just a year old and her husband had left her. A year later, their father died. “I don’t believe there is any justice. This is the eighth such case and even now, they can appeal. Only my mother hasn’t given up hope.”
His mother, Vandana Sarkar, who comes for every judgment, believes each one will bring her daughter some peace. “What was done to her is unforgivable and the culprits must be punished. How are they still alive,” she said on Monday.
“She was wearing a white salwar and yellow kurta the day I last saw her. That is the image I want her son to remember,” said Sonu.
Court: Pandher got girls home, it influenced Koli
“Koli had worked in a number of places but had not committed such acts. He committed such acts now because the accused, Moninder Singh Pandher, would bring call girls over and sleep with two-three girls,” Monday’s court order stated.
The CBI had not made Pandher an accused in the case. In its chargesheet, the agency had said that on the day Pinki Sarkar (20) was murdered, Pandher was “in his company’s office in Sector 2 till 1.30 pm” and then left for Dehradun in his SUV where he checked into a hotel at 11.27 pm. It had stated that “no evidence has surfaced showing (his) involvement”.
However, on the basis of an application filed by Sarkar’s family, the CBI summoned Pandher under Section 319 of the CrPC.
Explaining Pandher’s conviction, special CBI judge Pawan Kumar Tiwari said, “Since 2004, accused Moninder Singh has been consistently living” in the house where Koli also “worked and lived as his private help”. Secondly, the court said that “dozens of murders…took place in this house, D-5”.
Finally, the order pointed to Koli’s “confession” as a key point in the case, stating that it could be “used against” Pandher.
The order stated that before working for Pandher, “Koli had worked in a number of places but had not committed such acts”. The court said that when Pandher “would bring call girls”, Koli would “cook food for them” while Pandher “would drink with these girls”. The order said, “Seeing this, Koli started developing criminal tendencies and sexual desire.”
The court said that when Pandher “would not bring girls, (Koli’s) mind would become calm”, but when Pandher “would repeat these acts”, Koli would want to “cut and eat the body parts”, commit “wrongful acts”. The order noted that Koli’s confession indicates there have been occasions when Pandher “was in the house” at the same time that “bodies of murdered girls were kept in the bathroom”.