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Nithari victims’ parents wage a lonely legal battle

By Rana Ajit


Ghaziabad : Away from the sharp media gaze and bereft of the advice of legal luminaries, the hapless parents of the children and young women, who fell prey to the demonic Nithari serial killers, are waging a lone legal battle for justice here in a local court.

On record, legal experts of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are there to help them secure justice against the heinous crime, allegedly perpetrated by Noida businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic aide Surinder Koli.

But as special judge Rama Jain Friday heard arguments on the petition of the parents, objecting to the agency's clean chit to Pandher in the graver offences of abduction, rape and murder of the kids, the arguments of the CBI counsel sounded more like Pandher's defence counsel.

And to argue the case of the victims was a non-descript lawyer, Khaleed Khan, of Ghaziabad, hired jointly by their parents. But to the satisfaction of his poor clients, Khan often left the CBI counsel fumbling for words during the course of arguments.

The CBI has till now filed four chargesheets of the 19 cases related to the Nithari killings. After investigations, the agency has chargesheeted Pandher for indulging in immoral trafficking and bribing Simranjeet Kaur, a sub-inspector of the Noida police who has been suspended.

It has thus absolved him of the graver offences of rape and murder.

The CBI gave him a clean chit in the rape and murder of Pinki Sarkar, 20, and Payal, 14. While Khan has objected to him being cleared of being involved in Pinki's death, the CBI counsel questioned the locus standi of her parents questioning the agency's decision. He asserted that it was the state's right to prosecute the accused and the victim had no right to interfere in it.

But Khan contended that when a complainant names a suspect in the FIR and the investigative agency gives him a clean chit while filing the chargesheet, the complainant has every right to approach the court for remedy.

This made the CBI counsel change track. He contended that the court has only taken cognisance of the chargesheet and the victim can approach the court for the remedy when the court examines the evidence at the end of the trial.

Khan countered him saying that complainants in criminal cases were entitled to approach the court at all three stages of trial – when the court takes note of the chargesheet, when charges are framed against the accused and when evidence is examined.

The CBI counsel assured the court that the agency had thoroughly probed the matter and found that Pandher was in Dehradun on the day Pinki was killed. He cited the statements of three witnesses, including Pandher's driver, to prove so.

But Khan struck back. "But none of these witnesses are independent. They all are in one way or the other dependent upon Pandher. The CBI has no statement of any independent witness, like those of the hotel employees, where the CBI claims Pandher stayed."

The CBI counsel was once again left virtually speechless.

After the arguments, the judge adjourned the court, reserving her order to be delivered May 7.

"We might not have access to the likes of (Ram) Jethmalani or (Arun) Jaitley, but Khan may well get us some justice here," said Amit Haldhar, a father of young victim Rimpu.