The Delhi High Court today issued notice to Sukhdev Pehalawan, the third person sentenced to life term in the Nitish Katara murder case, on a state’s plea seeking death penalty for him.

A bench of justices Gita Mittal and J R Midha sought Pehalwan’s response by February 1 on a petition by Special Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan seeking capital punishment for him in the case.

Citing Pehalwan’s conduct in the case, the prosecution, in its petition, said, “Pehalwan is not capable of being reformed or rehabilitated as it is evident from his conduct post-crime and the circumstances.”

According to the petition, after killing Katara, Pehalwan, in collusion with co-accused Vikas and Vishal Yadav, did not only burn the body but also tried to destroy the evidence.

“The trial court should have awarded maximum punishment to Pehalwan as he did not only kill the victim but had tried to destroy evidence after murder,” said the petition.

Pehalwan, an alleged henchman of former Rajya Sabha member D P Yadav’s son Vikas and nephew Vishal, was awarded life term by the trial court in July 12, last year for abducting and killing business executive Nitish Katara in collusion with the duo in February 2002.

While pronouncing the sentence, the trial court had rejected prosecution’s plea for death sentence to him, saying the case did not fall under the category of the rarest of rare crimes.

“The case of the appellant cannot be taken to fall in a category where murder was committed with a motive which evinced total depravity and meanness, for example, murder by hired assassin for money or reward,” the trial court had said.

The trial court had also rejected state’s arguments that the case could be treated as ‘honour killing’ and Pehalwan should be awarded death penalty as it said the victim was not related to the convict.

Pehalwan was present with the Yadavs in their car when they had abducted Nitish from a marriage function in Ghaziabad and killed him on the night of February 16, 2002.

His trial was separated from those of Vikas and Vishal as he had jumped bail and was declared a proclaimed absconder.

His trial started only after his arrest in 2005.

He was chargesheeted in April 2006 for murder, abduction and destruction of evidence.

The Yadavs did not approve of the affair of their sister Bharti Yadav with Nitish.

Vikas and Vishal were earlier awarded rigorous life imprisonment for their role in the murder of Nitish, a son of an IAS officer.

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