In a major development, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of three convicts by the trial court in the 12-year-old Nitish Katara murder case.
The Delhi High Court, while passing the order, said Nitish Katara’s murder was a case of honour killing and there is no need for a re-trial.
A division bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice JR Midha also dismissed the appeals of the three convicts challenging the trial court verdict of May 2008, which awarded them life imprisonment for abducting and killing Nitish Katara in 2002.
The High Court said that the trial court had rightly found three convicts – Vikas, Vishal Yadav and Sukhdev Pehelwan – guilty of kidnapping and murdering Nitish Katara in 2002.
The bench passed the order while responding to a plea moved by politician DP Yadav’s son Vikas and nephew Vishal seeking a retrial in the case.
The bench also posted for April 25 the appeal of Katara’s mother Neelam Katara who had sought death sentence to the three convicts – Vikas, brother of Katara’s girlfriend Bharti, his cousin Vishal and contract killer Sukhdev Pehalwan – who are serving life terms in the Tihar Central Jail.
Victim’s mother and a key petitioner in the case, Neelam Katara has hailed the Delhi High Court order. However, the convicts are expected to challenge the Delhi High Court ruling in the Supreme Court.
At least five pleas challenging the trial court order were filed in connection with the case. While three pleas had been filed by the convicts, the other two had been filed by the prosecution and Nitish Katara’s mother Neelam Katara who has sought death sentence.
The prosecution’s case is built on the argument that the Yadav brothers killed Nitish as they didn’t approve of his relationship with their sister Bharti Yadav. According to prosecution, Vikas and Vishal killed Katara on the night of February 17, 2002 after abducting him from a marriage party in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad.
Seeking death penalty for the convicts, the prosecution had told the high court that Nitish Katara and Bharti Yadav were in an “intense relationship” and her family’s opposition to their friendship led to the killing of Katara, son of an Indian Administrative Service officer.
The prosecutor sought death penalty for the convicts and said, “If the court does not give death penalty, my appeal would press for the maximum punishment.” Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Vishal Yadav, had sought a re-trial. Jethmalani said the trial was not conducted in accordance with law.
“We are very very much willing for the re-trial, and we wish the re-trial to start from the prosecution of witness no.1,” Jethmalani told the bench. Vishal was convicted in 2008 along with his cousin Vikas for kidnapping and murdering.