The pronouncement of verdict in the Nitish Katara murder case appears uncertain as the Delhi High Court on Tuesday agreed to hear prime accused Vikas Yadav's plea seeking to restrain the trial court from delivering the judgement on Wednesday.
Within hours after a trial court reserved its verdict in the six-year-old sensational murder case, Vikas moved the High Court which agreed to hear his plea.
"We are not hearing (the matter) on the (issue of) merits. It is only on the issue of listing the matter. He (Vikas) must get a chance to be heard," a Bench comprising Justices Manmohan Sarin and Manmohan said.
Earlier during the day, Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur dismissed the fresh application of Vikas seeking to re-examine key witness Ajay Katara and others in the light of a sting operation, alleged pointing towards a nexus between the witness and Nitish's mother, Neelam Katara, who is the complainant in the case.
"I find no justifiable reasons to allow the present application particularly when an application of the accused under Section 311 (court's power to summon witness) of the CrPC to the similar effect has already been disposed of on the instruction of defence counsel G K Bharti on May 24," the court said.
Taking serious note of the move, the ASJ said, "It is the duty of the court to see that neither the prosecution nor the defence are allowed to misuse the process of the court.
"Since, the trial is already over and the judgement is to be pronounced, this is no stage to summon the witnesses, particularly (in view of the) disposal of earlier similar application."
The trial court said that the examination of the witness (Ajay Katara) was not necessary as the contents of the sting operation had already been admitted.
It said that summoning of the persons named in the application would amount to re-opening of the trial.
Aggrieved by the trial court order, senior advocate S S Gandhi, appearing for the accused in the High Court, contended that pronouncement of verdict tomorrow would cause prejudice as he was not given an opportunity to cross examine Ajay and others in the case.
"A lot of prejudice would be caused to me as the application to cross-examine has been dismissed by the trial court and the judgement would be delivered at 2 pm tomorrow," he contended.
Neelam Katara, however, opposed the petition and said, "He (Vikas Yadav) wants to drag the matter".
Nitish, a business executive and son of an IAS officer, was allegedly killed by Vikas and Vishal Yadav, son and nephew of controversial Uttar Pradesh politician D P Yadav, on the intervening night of February 16-17, 2002.
They had allegedly abducted the victim from a marriage party in Ghaziabad.
According to the prosecution, the accused had killed the victim as they did not approve of his alleged relationship with their sister Bharati Yadav.
The trial of the case was shifted to Delhi on the Supreme Court's direction after Nitish's mother Neelam Katara filed a petition before it expressing apprehension that she may not get a free and fair trial in a Ghaziabad court.