Nithari killings: SC agrees to hear CBI pleas against HC verdict acquitting Surendra Koli

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New Delhi, Jul 8 (PTI) The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear pleas filed by the CBI challenging the Allahabad High Court's verdict acquitting Surendra Koli in the sensational 2006 Nithari serial killings case.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and K V Viswanathan sought a response from Koli on separate pleas filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the high court's verdict dated October 16, 2023.

The apex court in May agreed to hear a plea filed by the father of one of the victims challenging the high court's order acquitting Koli in the case.

In this case, Pandher was acquitted by the sessions court while Koli was awarded death penalty on September 28, 2010.

On Monday, the top court said the pleas filed by the CBI would come up for hearing along with the petition of the victim’s father.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, said Koli was a "serial killer" who lured young girls and murdered them.

Terming the incident as "gruesome", Mehta said accusations of cannibalism were there in the case.

The high court had acquitted domestic help Koli and his employer Moninder Singh Pandher in the Nithari serial killings case in which they were facing death sentence, holding that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt "beyond reasonable doubt" and that the investigation was "botched up".

Reversing the death sentence given to Koli in 12 cases and Pandher in two cases, the high court had noted that the prosecution has failed to prove the guilt of both the accused "beyond reasonable doubt, on the settled parameters of a case based on circumstantial evidence" and the probe was "nothing short of a betrayal of public trust by responsible agencies".

Pandher and Koli were charged with rape and murder and sentenced to death in the killings that horrified the nation with its details of sexual assault, brutal murder and hints of possible cannibalism.

The high court had allowed multiple appeals filed by Koli and Pandher, who had challenged the death sentence awarded by a CBI court in Ghaziabad.

In all, 19 cases had been lodged against Pandher and Koli in 2007. The CBI had filed closure reports in three cases due to lack of evidence. In the remaining 16 cases, Koli was earlier acquitted in three and his death sentence in one was commuted to life.

The sensational killings came to light with the discovery of the skeletal remains of eight children from a drain behind Pandher's house at Nithari in Noida, bordering the national capital, on December 29, 2006.

Further digging and searches of drains in the area around the house led to more skeletal remains. Most of these remains were those of poor children and young women who had gone missing from the area.

Within 10 days, the CBI had taken over the case and its search resulted in the recovery of more remains. PTI ABA ABA KVK KVK

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