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Pandher’s role in Nithari killings to be probed again


Ghaziabad : A designated Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here Friday ordered the investigating agency to probe afresh the role of Noida businessman Moninder Singh Pandher in the demonic Nithari serial killings of children and young women.

Special Judge Rama Jain ordered "additional" probe into Pandher's role following a petition by the parents of 14-year-old Pinki Sarkar, one of the 19 victims of the killings in Nithari village, against the agency's clean chit to Pandher.

"In view of the totality of the circumstances, put forward by the petitioner, it would be proper and justified to order the investigative agency to carry out additional probe" into Pandher's part in the crimes, said the five-page order.

"After carrying out the additional probe, the investigative agency would submit its findings to the special judicial magistrate and this court without any delay," it said.

The judge had reserved her order on Sarkar's petition last Friday after hearing the contesting arguments of the petitioner's counsel Khalid Khan and CBI counsel Suresh Batra.

Police had started unearthing remains of the victims from Nithari, a village touching Noida in Uttar Pradesh, from a drain near Pandher's house Dec 29.

The CBI has till now filed four charge sheets for some of the 19 cases. After investigations, the agency has charged Pandher for indulging in immoral trafficking and bribing Simranjeet Kaur, a sub-inspector of the Noida police who has been suspended.

But the agency had absolved him of the graver offences of rape and murder. Pandher's domestic help Surendra Koli was charged with the graver crimes.

During the arguments before Judge Jain, Khan had objected to the CBI's charge sheet exonerating Pandher from the charge of Pinki's murder, while the CBI counsel had questioned the locus standi of her parents in questioning the agency's decision.

The CBI counsel had asserted that it was the state's right to prosecute the accused and the victim had no right to interfere in the process.

But Khan contended that when a complainant names a suspect in the First Information Report, or the formal police complaint, and the investigative agency gives him a clean chit while filing the charge sheet, the complainant has every right to approach the court for remedy.

The CBI counsel in reply had argued that the court had only taken cognisance of the charge sheet and the victim can approach the court for the remedy when it examines the evidence at the end of the trial.

Khan had then said that complainants in criminal cases were entitled to approach the court at all three stages of trial – when it takes note of the charge sheet, when charges are framed against the accused and when evidence is examined.

The CBI counsel had sought to assure 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 this.

Khan, however, had struck back, saying: "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 employees of the hotel where the CBI claims Pandher stayed."

As the CBI counsel was left virtually speechless in face of Khan's argument, the judge had reserved her order.