New Delhi: Vikas Yadav, son of controversial UP politician D P Yadav, and his cousin Vishal, were on Friday sentenced to life imprisonment in the Nitish Katara murder case.
The Patiala House Court handed out the term to Vikas and Vishal for the murder of Nitish, a business executive, six years ago but noted the crime did not fall in the "rarest of rare" category and was not a fit case to warrant a death penalty.
Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur, while pronouncing the verdict noted the offence cannot be termed as "brutal and diabolical in nature" for awarding capital punishment, , which the prosecution was arguing for.
Life not death
"In my opinion, the present case does not fall within the ambit of any of the circumstances as laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Machi Singh Vs State of Punjab to award extreme penalty of death to the convict," the ASJ said, adding, "I have awarded life sentence to both the convicts. This case does not deserve death penalty," the judge said.
Pronouncing the 18-page order on sentence, the Additional Sessions Judge concluded that Katara, who was intimate with Vikas' sister Bharti, had suffered a single injury on the skull which led to his death.
"The post mortem report speaks of only single injury on the skull of the deceased which is proved to have been caused by a hammer which in my opinion cannot be termed as murder in a brutal or diabolical manner," the judge said.
Both Vikas and Vishal have also been fined Rs 1.6 lakh each.
Reacting to the verdict Vikas Yadav’s father, politician D P Yadav alleged his son and nephew were victims of political conspiracy. “We have full confidence in the courts. The way the case has gone itself smells of political conspiracy. Our children are suffering because of this conspiracy,” he said, adding, "If you want to know the truth of the case then you should run the sting operation conducted on Ajay Katara. This smells of corruption in police and government. It’s a unfortunate incident where the involvement of fake witness, false evidences have been used against us,” he added.
Vikas Yadav's counsel K N Balgopal said he would challenge the verdict in the higher court. "We will be filing an appeal as soon as we get copies of the judgment. We will appeal the higher court for judgment,” he said.
It was an overwhelming moment for Neelam Katara, the mother Nitish, who fought an agonising six-year legal battle, refrained from making any immediate comments on the sentence.
"I have nothing to say. I respect the court order. I will comment after reading the judgement, Neelam Katara said.
Life imprisonment is no longer confined to 14 years. In this case, it means that the Yadavs could spend the rest of their life beyond bars.
Nitish Katara, son of an IAS officer, was allegedly killed by Vikas and his cousin Vishal Yadav on the intervening night of February 16-17, 2002. Vikas was opposed to Bharti's intimacy with Katara.
They had allegedly abducted the victim from a marriage function in Ghaziabad.
Katara's partly burnt and mutilated body was recovered from Khurja in Bulandshahar district in UP, a day after he went missing.
The destruction of evidence by the convicts, who burnt Nitish's body after the murder, was a separate offence under section 201 of the IPC and does not invite extreme penalty of death, the judge said
|NITISH KATARA MURDER: THE CASE SO FAR|
|February 16-17, 2002: Nitish Katara was allegedly murdered by Vikas and Vishal Yadav, after being abducted from a marriage party in Ghaziabad during the night. Nitish was killed for his alleged affair with Vikas’s sister Bharati. Bharati Yadav, who was listed as prime witness by the persecution left for London soon after.|
|February 20, 2002: The body of Nitish Katara was discovered from village Khurja in Bulandshahr.|
|March 11, 2002: The Tata Safari used in the murder was recovered from G T Road, Karnal.|
|March 31, 2002: UP police filed a four page chargesheet.|
|April 23, 2002: Both the accused Vikas and Vishal Yadav were arrested from Madhya Pradesh.|
|November 23, 2002: Charges were framed against the three accused. A separate trial was started against a third accused in the case, Sukhdev Pehlwan, who was arrested in 2005. The trial in Sukhdev's case is at the stage of prosecution evidence.|
|August 23, 2002: The Supreme Court directed transfer of the Nitish Katara murder case from a Ghaziabad sessions court to a competent court of the same jurisdiction in Delhi.|
|November 25, 2006: Prime witness Bharti Yadav returns to India. The prosecution had wrapped up their final arguments in the case in December 2007.||April 2, 2008: Trial court begins hearing the Nitish Katara murder case on a day-to-day basis.|
|April 23, 2008: The trial in the Nitish Katara murder case came to an end.|
On Wednesday, the Yadav cousins were pronounced guilty for the kidnapping and murder of Katara six years ago. They were also declared guilty of destruction of evidence.
Justice Kaur had pronounced the verdict, saying: "I hold Vikas Yadav and Vishal Yadav guilty under Section 302, 364, 201 and 34 of the IPC."
According to the prosecution, Katara, a business executive, was killed by the accused, as they did not approve of their sister, Bharti Yadav’s growing proximity with him.
The brothers allegedly bludgeoned him with a hammer and then poured kerosene on him and burnt him alive.
WHO SAID WHAT
"I’m satisfied with the sentence; it’s the first step in our journey to get justice."
"The court has given life term because it’s not the rarest of rare cases, it’s a crime committed under emotions. We’ll appeal to a higher court. But at the moment I can’t say anything about the procedure."
"I'm very happy today, I had tears in my eyes when I heard the judgement. It's a positive verdict but at the same time I would like to appeal to the judiciary to make the judgements speedy so more people's faith gets restored in the judicial system."