Twelve years after business executive Nitish Katara was abducted and murdered, the Delhi high court on Wednesday upheld the life sentence conviction given to Vikas Yadav, son of former MP DP Yadav, and two others for the crime.
Terming the murder a case of ‘honour killing’, the court dismissed the trio’s plea against a 2008 Delhi trial court verdict, which had awarded them life imprisonment for kidnapping and murdering Katara. The HC took about six years to reach their decision.
The HC is set to hear Neelam Katara’s, mother of the deceased, plea seeking death sentence to the convicts on April 25.
Vikas Yadav, his cousin Vishal Yadav and contract killer Sukhdev Pehalwan are currently serving life terms in Tihar jail.
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The HC said the Yadav brothers had “strong motive” to commit the crime as they objected to Katara’s romantic relationship with their sister Bharti Yadav. Terming the murder an honour killing, the bench said the brothers committed the “heinous crime” as their sister had got involved with a man not from the same caste or economic standing.
Bharti’s family was opposed to her relationship with Katara as she came from a well-placed business-class family with her father being a former Member of Parliament. Katara’s father was a government officer.
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In an unusually massive 1,193-page verdict, the HC pointed out that the perpetrators used “social, political and economic influence as well intimidation to obstruct investigation and to delay proceedings so as to escape prosecution.”
The only public witness, Ajay Kumar, who stood by his statement against the Yadav brothers and remained uninfluenced throughout the trial was “subjected to multiple criminal complaints by relatives of the appellants or persons associated to them,” the HC said.
The bench also noted that Bharti was “pressurized and prevented” from recording her statement in the earlier stage of the trial court.
On February 16, 2002, Katara was allegedly abducted by the Yadav brothers from a wedding in Ghaziabad and killed later in the night on February 17.