HC commutes death sentence of Nithari killer

HC commutes death sentence of Nithari killer

Delay in deciding on mercy plea of Koli valid ground, says court

HC commutes death sentence of Nithari killer

Nithari killings convict Surinder Koli escaped the noose after the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of inordinate delay in disposing of his mercy petitions by the central and state governments.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P K S Baghel delivered the verdict commuting Koli’s death sentence on a petition filed by Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR).

The court said in its judgment that delay in deciding on the mercy petitions of Koli was a valid ground for commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment.

The PUDR had contended, citing the Supreme Court’s verdict in Shatrughan Singh case, there had been an “ordinate delay” in disposing off mercy petitions filed by Koli and that he (Koli) had been enduring hardships throughout all this time as he had been kept in high security barrack in the jail.

The lawyer for the state sought to dismiss the “delay” allegations and pleaded that the delay had been caused owing to the filing of numerous petitions by Koli in the courts on one or the other grounds.

In its affidavit filed before the court, the state government contended that Koli had full freedom to roam outside his barrack and that he could also meet other prisoners.

The court had completed its hearing on the PUDR petition on Tuesday. Koli had been sentenced to death by a special CBI court in Ghaziabad in Februuary 2009 along with Mohinder Singh Pandher in connection with the killings. Pandher was, however, later acquitted by the high court.

Koli was scheduled to be hanged in September last year after his recall application had been rejected by the Supreme Court.  The Nithari killings in 2005 has shaken the country and triggered a huge outcry. It was alleged that Koli and Pandher had killed several young girls, chopped off their body parts and even had sex with the dead bodies. Skeletons had been recovered from a drain in Noida and both were arrested a year later.