High Court upholds life term for Katara’s killers

New Delhi, April 2 (IANS): The Delhi High Court Wednesday upheld the life imprisonment awarded to three convicts in Nitish Katara murder and termed the case as of “honour killing”. A division bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice J.R. Midha dismissed the appeals of the three against a trial court verdict of May 2008 which awarded them life imprisonment for abducting and killing Nitish Katara in 2002.
The bench posted for April 25 the appeal of Katara’s mother Neelam Katara who sought death sentence to the three convicts – Vikas Yadav, brother of Katara’s friend Bharti, and Vishal Yadav, Bharti’s cousin, and contract killer Sukhdev Pehalwan – who are serving life terms in the Tihar Central Jail here. According to the prosecution, Vikas and Vishal killed Katara on the night of Feb 17, 2002, after abducting him from a marriage party in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, as they were opposed to his friendship with their sister Bharti Yadav.
In the 1,193-page verdict, the high court bench held that Nitish Katara’s murder was a “honour killing” and that this case again brings to the fore a “malaise” which afflicts the Indian society. “What is of special concern is that such divisive forces exist even on the borders of Delhi – the nation’s capital, which is also a cosmopolitan city,” the court observed.
“The case of the prosecution squarely brings the murder of Nitish Katara within the meaning of the expression of honour killing,” it said. “It is in evidence that Bharti’s family was opposed to her association or any kind of alliance with Nitish Katara on the ground that he was not from the same caste and that he belonged to a service class family.”
“While she was a Yadav, Nitish was a Katara. Bharti came from a well placed business class family with her father also being a member of parliament. Nitish Katara’s father was in government service and they lived in official accommodation. Nitish Katara was certainly not in the same income bracket of Bharti’s family,” the court observed.
The court also pulled up Yadav brothers for their attempt to delay the case and for mocking at every direction passed by the trial court during the trial of the case. It said that because of their “influence”, it took their sister Bharti Yadav three and half years to enter the witness box.
The bench also said that the Yadavs made every possible effort to avoid appearance of Bharti, a material witness before the trial court, which resulted in substantial delay in trial as well as “pressurised her into withholding material evidence and giving testimony which was prevaricatory and false”. It added: “The time has come that an inference needs to be drawn against the accused persons who deliberately were misleading investigators; suborn witnesses; destroy evidence; win over crucial witnesses; protract the trial so that crucial evidence is lost or forgotten by witnesses.”
Vikas and Bharti are children of former parliamentarian D.P. Yadav. Vishal was convicted in 2008 along with his cousin Vikas for kidnapping and murdering Katara, son of an Indian Administrative Service officer. The Yadavs had sought a re-trial of the case, saying the trial was not conducted in accordance with law.


A link to the article can be found here.