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

New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) "How could Moninder Singh Pandherbe unaware of serial crimes taking place inside his house,"was a poser by the Supreme Court, which today kept pending theCBI''s appeal against his acquittal in a Nithari killing case.

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

"It would have effect one way or other on other pendingcases. It is not an isolated case and is about a series ofmurders. You have been charged with serial killings," a benchcomprising 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-oldPamdher, who said each case is different from the other andcannot be connected and the appeal against his acquittal bedecided as he has been in jail since the cases surfaced in2005.

The bench upheld the death sentence awarded to Pandher''sdomestic help Surinder Koli for murdering 14-year-old RimpaHaldar, one of the victims in the serial rape-cum-killingcases, saying they were "horrifying" and "barbaric".

"How could he be unaware of the serial crimes taking placeinside and near his (Pandher''s) house," the bench said whileexpressing dissatisfaction over Sodhi''s arguments and makingclear that any decision on his appeal might have a bearing onmany cases pending against him.

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

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

While the bench was making the remarks, Sodhi said thematter was still subjudice and pleaded that the judgesrestrain themselves from making observations.

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

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

"You have to respect our anxiety. Don''t try to rein us bymaking such statements," the bench said, adding, "You areliving in the house and saying that that you were not aware ofwhat was going on inside your house."

It said, "We appreciate your anxiety. You should alsoappreciate our anxiety...These are only tentative observationsbased on our view and can change during the course ofarguments."

Realising that the bench was not in favour of continuinghearing Pandher''s case, Sodhi did not further argue on thecourt''s decision to keep the CBI''s appeal pending. MORE PTIAAC RKS SMI SC

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