Nithari case: Moninder Pandher walks out of Luksar jail
The Allahabad High Court had acquitted Pandher and his domestic help four days ago, citing lack of sufficient evidence and a flawed investigation
Moninder Singh Pandher, arrested in the sensational Nithari serial killings case as a principal accused in 2006, walked out of Luksar jail in Greater Noida on Friday, four days after Allahabad High Court acquitted him of all charges.
The 65-year-old was dressed in a white Pathan suit paired with a waistcoat and sports shoes as he walked out of the high-security prison at around 1.40 pm. Pandher, who had a mask on, was received by a couple of advocates. He got into a car and drove off without speaking to anyone.
The high court on Monday, 16 October acquitted Pandher and his domestic help Surendra Koli in the case after noting that the prosecution had failed to prove guilt "beyond reasonable doubt", and that the investigation was botched.
The two were charged with rape and murder of children and sentenced to death by a lower court in the killings in Nithari, Noida, that horrified the nation with details of sexual assault, brutal murder and hints of possible cannibalism.
"Today, we received the second court order (related to Pandher's release). After completing the due formalities, he was released from jail," Luksar Jail superintendent Arun Pratap Singh told PTI.
The jail officer had earlier told PTI that Pandher was lodged in the prison's tuberculosis ward and undergoing treatment for the disease. "He was lodged in Dasna jail in the past and brought to Luksar jail in June this year," Singh added.
Koli, the key accused, continues to be behind bars in Ghaziabad's Dasna jail, serving life imprisonment for the killing of a 14-year-old girl.
The Nithari killings came to light with the discovery of the skeletal remains of eight children from a drain behind Pandher's house in Noida, bordering the national capital, on 29 December 2006.
Further digging and searches of drains in the area around Pandher's house led to the recovery of more skeletal remains. Most of these remains were that of children and young women from poor families who had gone missing from the area.
Within 10 days, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the case and a search resulted in the recovery of more bones.
In all, 19 cases were lodged against Pandher and Koli in 2007. The CBI had filed closure reports in three owing to lack of evidence. Of the remaining 16 cases, Koli was earlier acquitted in three cases and his death sentence in one case was commuted to life. Pandher was initially charged in six cases, according to his lawyer.
He was acquitted in three cases by the sessions court earlier. He has been acquitted by Allahabad High Court in the remaining three — one in 2009 and in two on Monday.