Koli-Pandher acquitted in Nithari killings case: Revisiting the Noida horror

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The Nithari case, also known as Nithari serial murders or Noida serial murder case, is one of the most gruesome and horrifying cases of 2006. Two prime accused in the infamous case – Surendra Koli and Moninder Singh Pandher – were acquitted by the Allahabad High Court on Monday.

The Allahabad High Court found accused Surendra Koli innocent in the 12 cases against him, while co-accused Moninder Singh Pandher was found innocent in two cases against him.

Being one of the most notorious criminal investigations in recent Indian history, it involved the discovery of multiple human remains in and around a house in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, in 2006. The grisly details of the case sent shockwaves across the country.

The Nithari serial killings involved the abduction, sexual abuse, and brutal murder of children and young women. Koli, a domestic help, and Pandher, the owner of the house where these crimes took place, were the main suspects.

It was alleged that Koli would lure the children to the house by offering them sweets and chocolates. He would then murder them, have sex with their corpses, dismember them, and cook and eat the body parts. He would throw the bones and other body parts into a drain or open backyard behind the house.

Here is the chronology of events in the Nithari case:

December 29, 2006: Two Nithari village residents reported they knew the location of the remains of children who had gone missing in the previous two years. Investigation in the case began following which skeletal remains of children were found from the drain of a house (D-5)in Nithari (Sector 31), Noida. After that, the owner of the house, Moninder Singh Pandher, and his domestic help, Surinder Koli, were arrested.

December 30, 2006: Investigation began and more skeletons were excavated from the drain.

December 31, 2006: Two policemen were suspended. While the evidence was not enough to prove the suspects were murderers, political pressure started building up.

Several people were under suspicion, including Pandher’s maid as police suspected she lured women to the house. Police also suspected an organ trade angle and questioned a doctor living close to Pandher’s residence in connection with an alleged kidney racket at his hospital.

January 10, 2007: The case was transferred to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after pressure from the central government.

January 11, 2007: A CBI team visited Nithari and found thirty more bones including parts of legs, bones, and torso near Pandher’s house.

The CBI then interrogated Koli and found that “he is a psychopath who used to carry out the killings”. Interrogators also said that it was possible that Pandher had no role to play in the murders.

Over a period of two years, the probe agency investigated the case in detail including sending seized materials to the laboratory for post-mortem, individualisation, and DNA extraction.

February 12, 2009: A special sessions court in Ghaziabad found Pandher and Koli guilty in the murder of 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar. Haldar was murdered in 2005.

February 13, 2009: Both the accused Moninder Singh Pandher and Surinder Koli were given the death sentence and the case was classified as “rarest of rare”.

September 10, 2009: The Allahabad High Court acquitted Moninder Singh Pandher and overturned his death sentence.

In next three years, Surinder Koli was found guilty in the murders of four other minor girls.

February 15, 2011: The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Surinder Koli.

July 2014: The President rejected the mercy petitions filed by Koli.

September 3, 2014: The Supreme Court issued a death warrant against Koli in Nithari case.

September 4, 2014: Surinder Koli was transferred to Meerut Jail because of the absence of hanging facilities at Dasna Jail, Ghaziabad. He was to be hanged on September 12, 2014.

The Supreme Court stayed the death sentence for one week after a petition was filed for the same.

January 28, 2015: The High Court bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PKS Baghel commuted the death sentence of Surinder Koli to life imprisonment on the ground of “inordinate delay” in deciding his mercy petition.

July 24, 2017: Both Koli and Pandher were given the death sentence in the latest hearing by the CBI Court at Ghaziabad.

In 2019, Koli was given a death sentence in the murder of a 14-year-old girl.

The Allahabad High Court’s decision nullifies the death sentences Koli and Pandher had received from the trial courts.

Edited By:

Manisha Pandey

Published On:

Oct 16, 2023

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Image Credit / Source: News Wire