How can Pandher be unaware of crimes in his house, asks SC

How can Pandher be unaware of crimes in his house, asks SC

"Let the appeal be kept pending and wait for the outcome of other (Nithari) cases. It is a composite case and all cases are related to each other.

"It would have effect one way or other on other pending cases. It is not an isolated case and is about a series of murders. You have been charged with serial killings," a bench comprising justices Markandey Katju and Gyansudha Misra said.

However, the decision evoked objection from R S Sodhi, a former Delhi High Court judge and counsel for 54-year-old Pamdher, who said each case is different from the other and cannot be connected and the appeal against his acquittal be decided as he has been in jail since the cases surfaced in 2006.

The bench upheld the death sentence awarded to Pandher's domestic help Surinder Koli for murdering 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar, one of the victims in the serial rape-cum-killing cases, saying they were "horrifying" and "barbaric".

"How could he be unaware of the serial crimes taking place inside and near his (Pandher's) house," the bench said while expressing dissatisfaction over Sodhi's arguments and making clear that any decision on his appeal might have a bearing on many cases pending against him.

"If he is acquitted by this court at this stage when other cases are for trial, the entire evidence in those cases will go," the bench said.

"What about other cases going against you. You were in Australia only for 15 days out of two years during which murders and rapes were going on in your building. It is difficult to believe that you were not aware of them. It is not a case of one murder but 18 and it might have been done with your approval," the bench said.

While the bench was making the remarks, Sodhi said the matter was still subjudice and pleaded that the judges restrain themselves from making observations.

"Don't make observations. They would adversely hurt my case," the senior advocate said.

Taking the statement of Sodhi very strongly, the bench chided him for trying to "rein in the court".

"You have to respect our anxiety. Don't try to rein us by making such statements," the bench said, adding, "You are living in the house and saying that that you were not aware of what was going on inside your house."

It said, "We appreciate your anxiety. You should also appreciate our anxiety...These are only tentative observations based on our view and can change during the course of arguments."

Realising that the bench was not in favour of continuing hearing Pandher's case, Sodhi did not further argue on the court's decision to keep the CBI's appeal pending.

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for victim's family accused the CBI of protecting Pandher.However, the bench said, "It is not fair to make allegations. Why would CBI try to protect him?"

The allegations were made by the counsel appearing for Rimpa Haldar's family.
The bench even said, "Pandher has to be given benefit of doubt (in the Rimpa Haldar case).

"There is no direct involvement of Pandher in the killing of Rimpa Haldar. He was in Australia (when the murder happened)," the bench said.

A total of 16 cases were registered in connection with the Nithari killings. Pandher was sentenced to death in the Rimpa case but he was acquitted by the Allahabad High Court. Pandher was booked in six cases