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17 Oct 2014

The Nithari case made headlines in 2006 when fifteen skeletons were unearthed from a house in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, following the investigation in the disappearance case in which a number of children and a woman went missing. House owner Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic servant Surender Koli were arrested in the case and both were accused of serial murders, sexual abuse and cannibalism (eating human body parts). However, in one of the sixteen cases filed in relation to Nithari disappearances, Koli has been sentenced to death for the same case for which Pandher has been acquitted by Allahabad High Court. In five of the sixteen cases filed against Koli, he has been awarded death penalty. In one of these five cases, Koli's mercy petition appealing against the death penalty has been recently rejected by the President and his fate hangs on tenterhooks as the date of execution is to be finalized soon. A punishment that appears to be an act of giving justice to the victims, however, needs to be viewed in totality to understand that there are several loopholes in the process of investigation, trial and justice delivery. Many questions remain unanswered and make us wonder whether the hanging of Koli will be just, fair and reasonable or an irreversible mistake of our criminal justice system.

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