Petition seeks commutation of death sentence or delay till all cases involving Koli are completed, pointing out the lack of evidence implicating him in the murders
By Team FI
Following the Allahabad high court’s order to delay Surinder Koli’s execution till December 1st, activists are seeking endorsements for the plea for mercy petition which will be submitted to the President of India.
Surinder Koli accused of killing several children in Nithari, Noida, in 2005 and 2006, was sentenced to death on four cases of murder by various courts. Earlier this month the Supreme Court had rejected a petition that sought a review of his death sentence. The mercy petition requests that the death sentence be commuted or at the least delayed till all the cases involving Nithari victims in which is accused is completed. The petition opines that “there is no evidence whatsoever that Koli was actually the killer of the 18 women and children. Koli’s ‘confession’ – the only basis for his conviction – itself declares that it was obtained under torture and tutoring by the police.”
Full text of the letter:
The President of India,
Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi,
India – 110 004.
Subject: Execution of Surinder Koli Would be a Travesty of Justice
Plea for Mercy from Women’s Groups, Lawyers, Academics, Students and Activists, and our Supporters
As women who have been engaged in the struggles for women’s rights and justice, we appeal to you to commute Koli’s death sentence or at least to stay his execution till the completion of the other cases involving other Nithari victims in which he is an accused.
Surinder Koli accused of murdering 18 women and children residing in Nithari village, NOIDA is facing imminent execution after his Review Petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court on 28 October 2014.
While there is no doubt that justice needs to be served in the gruesome Nithari case, that is precisely the reason why executing Koli would be an injustice – not only to him, but to the families whose children were slaughtered at Nithari.
There is no evidence whatsoever that Koli was actually the killer of the 18 women and children. Koli’s ‘confession’ – the only basis for his conviction – itself declares that it was obtained under torture and tutoring by the police.
The phenomenon of abnormally high disappearances of children from Nithari was present from 2003 – before Koli came to Pandher’s house as a domestic servant in 2004. And the phenomenon continues till date – even after Koli’s arrest and conviction.
The autopsy surgeon who examined bodies of the victims discounted cannibalism and suggested organ trade as an explanation for the murders.
The expert committee set up by the Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD), in its report, concluded that the police had fixed on Koli as the culprit, and had not investigated the possibility of organ trade as the motive for the offence.
The autopsy surgeon opined to the Committee that the bodies had been severed with surgical precision, whereas it was the CBI’s case that Koli had used an axe to hack the bodies to pieces.
The lawyers in this case have pointed out that the evidence of the autopsy surgeon was suppressed by the police. He was neither examined as a witness during the trial nor was his statement included in the chargesheet.
Another suspect, a doctor who was previously charged in a case of organ trade, was simply not probed by the police.
The committee also stressed the need to investigate whether some of Koli’s supposed victims were actually alive and trafficked elsewhere.
The DNA report also contradicts Koli’s ‘confession’. Koli supposedly confessed to killing 16 persons in his employer’s living room, but DNA evidence showed body parts of 19 victims. 11 of those bodies remain unidentified. Clearly, the story of those murders is full of loose ends, and Koli’s confession simply does not fit all the facts.
Koli’s death sentence has been upheld in the Rimpa Haldar case by the Supreme Court. But there is still no evidence that Rimpa Haldar is dead – in fact, there is a letter by her to her parents saying she eloped and is living with her husband in Nepal. There is no evidence that any attempt was made to establish if this was indeed a fact.
Why have these facts have been ignored by the courts and the police? Why the hurry to pin the crimes solely on Koli?
It is relevant to point out that Koli is Dalit, poor, and had access only to very poorly paid legal aid. These facts placed him in a very poor position to challenge the way in which the media and the police portrayed him as a cannibal and a depraved killer. Koli’s case underlines how in most cases it is the economically and socially vulnerable who tend to be awarded the death penalty, because they are in no position to influence public opinion.
The poverty of the accused, poor trial representation, lacunae in investigation, torture and tutoring and glaring gaps in forensic examination furnish strong grounds for this petition for mercy.
The wrongful execution of an innocent person is an injustice that can never be rectified. As women staunchly opposed to the death penalty in principle, we stood firm against this form of retributive punishment, under the pretext of ‘justice’. Many independently conducted surveys from across the globe have been unsuccessful in establishing that executions thwart crime. On the contrary, an American survey reported by the New York Times in the year 2000 stated that in the last 20 years, homicide rates of states with the death penalty were 48 to 100 per cent higher than in those without the death penalty. Even the much-hailed Justice Verma Committee report was unequivocally against the death penalty, even in the rarest of the rare of rape cases.
Hence, we appeal to you to commute Koli’s death sentence, or at least to begin with, stay his execution till the completion of the other cases involving other Nithari victims in which he is an accused.
Please send your endorsements by Sunday, 30th November to saheliwomen(at)gmail(dot)com or kavitakrish73(at)gmail(dot)com