M A I N   N E W S

Pandher acquitted, Koli’s sentence upheld

Allahabad, September 11
Noida businessman Moninder Singh Pandher was today acquitted for want of evidence in one of the infamous Nithari serial killing cases by the Allahabad High Court which upheld the death sentence handed down to his domestic help Surinder Koli, describing him as a "menace to the society".

The order was passed by a division bench comprising Justices Imtiyaz Murtaza and Kashi Nath Pandey, on an appeal by 52-year-old Pandher and 38-year-old Koli, who had challenged the death sentence awarded to them on February 13, this year by the trial court in Ghaziabad.

The judges, while allowing the appeal of Pandher and dismissing that of Koli, made it clear that the "findings recorded by us are only confined to the murder of Haldar and the court below shall not import any observations/comments in the body of this judgement for being applied to the decision while hearing other cases relating to Nithari incident".

The court, while upholding the death sentence of Koli, who had admitted to have killed the 14-year-old girl, observed that the crime committed by him was "gruesome, heinous and cold-blooded" and "we would not forebear from expressing that the accused Surendra Koli is a menace to the society".

"The depraved and brutish acts of Koli call for only one sentence and that is death sentence. We agree with the reasoning of the sessions judge awarding death sentence and affirm the same awarded to Koli," the bench observed.

The court, however, disagreed with the trial court's decision to award death sentence to Pandher, who was not chargesheeted by the CBI and whom the sessions judge had summoned invoking section 319 of CrPC.

The court, however, disagreed with the trial court's decision to award death sentence to Pandher, who was not chargesheeted by the CBI and whom the sessions judge had summoned invoking section 319 of CrPC.

Pandher's son Karandeep Singh, who was present in the High Court, said he was now looking forward to "justice in the remaining cases against his father".

The High Court, he said, had sustained CBI's chargesheet and "we are quite happy about that". — PTI




Minister mum on Nithari, Arushi murder probes
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
On a day when Moninder Pandher, accused in the Nithari killings, walked a free man, and investigations into the Arushi murder case appeared further botched up, Union Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said she had nothing to say on the subject.

“It concerns the Home Ministry,” replied Krishna, when asked what her ministry, with a mandate of child protection, would do to see that probes into these worst cases of child abuse in the country did not end up in blind alleys.

“What can I say when the CBI is investigating the matter” was the minister’s prosaic reaction to an event that was sending out damaging signals on child protection in India. By contrast, her predecessor Renuka Choudhry, by the virtue of power the ministry’s mandate gave her, remained engaged with the Arushi case since it hit headlines last year. Renuka even met the victim’s parents and kept track of investigations.

But her successor was happy today to remain neutral, and instead list her 100-day decisions, including the expansion of the National Children’s Fund budget to cover children rendered helpless by events like bomb blasts and calamities and setting up of State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights - 33 in three months.

Tirath also flaunted the launch of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme approved last year by the Cabinet after it had stayed on the shelves for six years. The scheme is yet to take off in spirit.

That apart, most stuff the WCD Minister projected today as her agenda, except the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW), is old. “We will enhance the outlay for the National Commission of Women from five to 15 crore, restructure the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) to empower women and take anti-trafficking measures forward along with the Railways to see that children are not loaded on Indian trains by the herds for being trafficked,” the minister said.

Even on the National Mission for Women (announced by the President this July), there appears no fresh thinking. “We will bring all existing schemes under this Mission,” Krishna said, while her officers voiced suspicion on whether that was possible.

The most interesting goal the mission, with an estimated budget of Rs 8000 crore, sets itself, is contained in its concept note: “The mission will launch a nationwide movement of non-violence and peaceful living, for five years, to observe non-violence in every household.”

How this utopian idea would fructify, in times when violence against women is on its zenith, is not known, just as the functionality of Krishna’s other novel ideas is confusing.

She today proposed that parents should give their marriageable daughters insurance instead of dowry. She was unable to list contours of such insurance scheme, which could land women in vulnerable spots. If they are insured to enter matrimonial homes, they could well have enemies waiting.

Besides, the ministry plans an ambitious scheme of social security for the homemakers. “We keep talking of destitute women but what about those who build homes? They too must be secured,” Krishna said.



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