Katara case: Bharti's last chance
Giving a last chance to London-based Bharti Yadav to testify as a prosecution witness in the Nitish Katara murdar case, a Delhi court on Saturday asked the elusive daughter of UP politician DP Yadav to appear before it on September 28, failing which she would be declared a 'proclaimed offender'.
Amidst much ado about Bharti's fax message last week expressing her willingness to depose via video-conferencing or to a Commission, the court set in motion the proclamation proceedings after the prosecution submitted that the signature on the message did not match that of her.
Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur rejected the defence contention that a witness cannot be declared a proclaimed offender for failure to appear in court.
Even as the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed Bharti's London address mentioned in her fax message, the court was not inclined to agree with her request for recording her testimony through video-conferencing.
After Saturday's order, the prosecution will publish a notice in an Indian and an International daily and also paste the proclamation on her all available addresses, including those in London.
Despite this, if Bharti fails to appear before the trial court on September 28, she would be declared a 'proclaimed offender', which attracts a three-year imprisonment.
Bharti is the sister of Vikas Yadav, who is facing trial for the murder of Nitish Katara. Her cousin Vishal and one Sukhdev are co-accused in the case. Vikas and Sukhdev are currently in judicial custody, Vishal is on bail.
Katara was allegedly kidnapped and murdered on the night of February 16-17, 2002 from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, where he had gone to attend a marriage party.
Reacting to the court's order, Nitish Katara's mother, Neelam, described it as the "next logical step in the direction of justice".
"I think it is the next logical step in the direction of justice and towards getting the witness to court," she told reporters after the hearing.
Expressing her support to Bharti's decision to depose in court as expressed in the latter's fax, Neelam said, "If she is not allowed to come to court by her family then I think there is no other way for her to exercise her right."
"I never wanted Bharti to be brought to court forcefully and the last thing I would want is to take action against her," Nitish Katara's mother said.
Neelam on Saturday moved an application against DP Yadav seeking action against him for misleading the court about Bharti's whereabouts. She also sought the court's permission to be allowed her own counsel to assist the prosecution.
The court has posted the case for further hearing on July 31.