SC upholds HC conviction of Nitish Katara killers

SC upholds HC conviction of Nitish Katara killers

The Supreme Court on Monday confirmed the conviction of Uttar Pradesh politician D P Yadav’s son Vikas, his nephew Vishal and their henchman Sukhdev Pehelwan in the 2002 Nitish Katara murder case.

A bench of Justices J S Khehar and A K Goel declined to interfere with the Delhi High Court order of February, this year, upholding their conviction but agreed to examine their plea on quantum of sentence.

The 2002 “honour killing” of Katara, the son of a senior Railway officer by two brothers and Pehelwan after his abduction from a party in UP’s Ghaziabad district, ignited huge public outcry. The brothers did not appreciate their sister Bharti’s relationship with the victim. Vikas’ father UP’s strongman DP Yadav was sentenced to life term in another murder case.

Declining to interfere with the HC’s order, the bench said, “This is a strange case. What kind of people are we? Even the girl in the case denies the relationship till it is established by her phone calls and cards sent to the boy. Everybody has resiled in the case. See the kind of perception you people have created and the power you wielded.” The HC had awarded them life term without remission till they served 25 years jail term. The HC had awarded them five more years in jail for destruction of evidence which has to be served consecutively.

Challenging the HC’s order, senior advocate U R Lalit, appearing for Vikas, submitted that the conviction was solely based on a statement made by witness Ajay Katara, whose very presence on the fateful day and his act of recognising the accused was in question.
Lalit contended that this witness (Ajay Katara) came to the police one month after the incident on the intervening night of February 16-17, 2002. “Had he been a good Samaritan, he would have come immediately. Not after watching images of Vikas being shown on television,” he submitted.

“See the fate of the country, only criminals will cry for justice... Can you imagine what kind of fairness he is expecting,” the bench said.

Noting that the accused had failed to bring out any glaring contradiction in the statement of witness, the bench said, “we admired the investigating officer who established presence of the three convicts and Bharti Yadav at the marriage function in 2002 before victim Nitish Katara was abducted and his body was found later.”

During the hearing, advocate Kamini Jaiswal pointed out that witness Ajay Katara was slapped with as many as 21 cases due to pressure just because he came forward to make the statement in the case. After hearing arguments from the convicts’ counsel for over two hours, the bench, however, said, “You (convicts) are too young. Our heart goes out for you...we can show our indulgence as far as sentence is concerned.”

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