Allahabad: The Allahabad High Court today extended the stay on the execution of death sentence awarded to Nithari killings prime accused Surinder Koli till December 23.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P K S Baghel passed the order while hearing a PIL filed by the People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR). The PIL had contended that on account of "delay on part of Constitutional authorities" in disposing of the mercy petition filed by Koli before the President, his execution shall be deemed "unconstitutional" and his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.
Deferring the hearing on the matter owing to "paucity of time", the court also ordered that an appeal filed by Koli against his death sentence be clubbed with the PIL when the matter comes up for hearing on December 23. Koli, who worked as a domestic servant at the house of Noida-based businessman and co-accused Moninder Singh Pandher, had been awarded capital punishment for the murder of 14-year-old girl Rimpa Haldar.
Pandher, who was held guilty by the trial court along with Koli in a number of related cases, is currently out on bail. The serial killings had come to light in December 2006 when several residents of the Nithari village, located close to Pandher's bungalow in Noida's sector 31, approached police with complaints of their children, mostly minor girls, having gone missing. During investigations, a number of skeletons were exhumed from near the house.
Following an outcry over alleged inept handling of the matter by the Uttar Pradesh Police, the case was handed over to the CBI in January 2007. After his death sentence in the Rimpa Haldar case was upheld by the Allahabad High Court through the very order whereby Pandher was acquitted, Koli's subsequent appeal before the Supreme Court was turned down while his mercy petition was rejected by the President.
The trial court issued a death warrant on September two this year fixing September 12 as the date of hanging but the execution was stayed by the Supreme Court which decided to hear his recall petition in an open court. However, on October 28, the Supreme Court dismissed the recall application clearing the decks for execution of the death warrant. Three days later, on October 31, the High Court admitted the PUDR's PIL and stayed the execution of till November 26.
The stay was extended till December one on November 26 as the Additional Solicitor General sought time for filing a proper counter-affidavit in compliance with the October 31 order.