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Trial judge made undue haste, defence tells HC

delhi Updated: May 29, 2008 00:44 IST
Harish V. Nair
Harish V. Nair
Hindustan Times
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Minutes after the trial court convicted Vikas and Vishal Yadav in the Nitish Katara murder case, the battle between the defence and the prosecution shifted to the Delhi High Court. The high court witnessed a heated exchange as it took up the petition filed by Vikas Yadav seeking a stay on the pronouncement of the judgment in the case at the trial court and re-examination of key witness Ajay Katara.

Trial court judge, Ravinder Kaur, delivered the verdict minutes before the high court took up the petition on Wednesday afternoon. Vikas Yadav, the prime accused in the case, had moved the high court after a sting CD surfaced in which Ajay Katara allegedly admitted to have lied before the court to favour the prosecution. The trial court had dismissed the petition seeking re-examination of Ajay Katara and fixed the date for delivering the judgment.

A verbal duel ensued between R.K. Anand, the lawyer appearing for Vikas Yadav, and the prosecution when Justice G.S. Sistani took up the petition at 11:20 am. By that time, Vikas and Vishal Yadav had been sent to Tihar Jail after conviction in the trial court.

Anand criticised the trial judge for showing “undue” haste. When justice Sistani asked him why the petition was not mentioned at 10:30 am when the court assembled, Anand said: “We never got an opportunity as the trial judge pronounced the judgment at 10:20 am.” He also accused the prosecution of misleading the lower court and the high court and of denying them a hearing.

“It is so unfortunate as a division bench of the high court had yesterday (on Tuesday) said the petitioner deserved to be given a chance to be heard. We had also issued a copy to the prosecution and, when the matter was fixed for hearing, how could the lower court pronounce the judgment?” Anand said.

The defence wanted an opportunity to cross-examine Ajay Katara once again as the CD contained an admission by Ajay about him not being at the place where he had claimed to have seen Nitish alive in the Tata Safari along with Vikas and his cousin and co-accused Vishal Yadav on the intervening night of February 16 and 17, 2002, when Nitish was allegedly killed.

In his earlier testimony before the court, Ajay had told the court that he had seen the victim with the accused in their vehicle at a check-post on the Delhi-Hapur highway around midnight as his scooter had broken down.