A special Central Bureau of Investigation court on Friday awarded death sentence to Chandigarh businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his servant Surender Koli for rape and murder of a 24-year-old maid in the Nithari killings case that rocked the country.
The court has also slapped a fine of Rs 35,000 on Koli and Rs 25,000 on Pandher, CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said in Ghaziabad.
The woman's body was among those of 19 victims found from the backyard of Pandher's house in Nithari village in Noida in Uttar Pradesh.
"It was alleged that Surender Koli committed the rape and murder of the victim at D-5, Sector 3, Noida in (Pandher's house) on November 12, 2006," Dayal said.
He said it was alleged in the first information report that the victim had gone to Pandher's house for work and never came back.
The family of the victim had filed a missing complaint after she did not return home on October 12, 2006.
During a search in the area behind Pandher's house, the Noida Police had recoverd skeletal remains.
It was DNA testing of one of the remains that matched with the mother and brother of the victim. Her clothes from the skeletal remains were also identified by her relatives.
A charge sheet was filed by the CBI on June 22, 2007.
Calling the killings the 'rarest of the rare' cases, CBI Special Judge Pawan Kumar Tiwari had on Thursday convicted the two for murder, kidnapping to murder, rape and destruction of evidence and reserved its order on sentencing for Friday.
In his order on the quantum of sentence, he said they be 'hanged till death'.
Special Public Prosecutor Jai Prakash Sharma said that the Noida Police had found skeletal remains of 19 persons, mostly children, from the backyard of Pandher's house.
A total 19 cases were lodged but in three cases the CBI had filed closure reports due to lack of evidence, he said.
"The CBI had filed charge sheets in 16 cases out of which in 10 cases (including the present one) sentence has been pronounced while six are still under trial," the CBI spokesperson said.
Among the 10 cases, both Koli and Pandher were convicted by the special court in three cases while in remaining cases Koli alone was awarded death senetence.
Pandher was acquitted by the Allahabad high court in one of the cases in which he was convicted by the special court.
In one of the cases, his death sentence was commuted to life term by the high court in 2015.
The sensational killings came to light with the discovery of eight skeletal remains of children from the drain behind Pandher's house on December 29, 2006.
Pandher and Koli were subsequently arrested by the Noida Police.
With further digging and searching of drains and the area around Pandher's house, more skeletal remains were found. Most of these remains proved to be that of poor children and young women who had gone missing from the area.
Within 10 days, the CBI took over case and its search resulted in the recovery of more bones. During the interrogation, Koli had accepted rape, murder and cannibalism, according to the CBI.
IMAGE: Noida businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surendra Koli being taken to jail after a special CBI court in Ghaziabad sentenced them to death on Friday in connection with one of the 16 murder cases infamous as the Nithari killings. Photograph: PTI Photo