Sentence on Friday in the high-profile, six-year-old case
Delhi High Court refuses to stay verdict
Hundreds of hearings and many controversies
NEW DELHI: A court here on Wednesday held Vikas Yadav, son of the Uttar Pradesh politician D.P. Yadav, and his cousin Vishal Yadav guilty of kidnap, killing and destruction of evidence in the six-year-old, high profile Nitish Katara murder case.
Following the verdict, Vishal, who was out on bail, was taken into custody and the two accused were whisked out of the packed Patiala House courtroom by the police. The sentences will be pronounced on Friday.
Additional sessions judge Ravinder Kaur pronounced the verdict after counsel informed the court that there was no stay by the Delhi High Court.
According to the prosecution, Nitish was kidnapped on the night of February 16-17, 2002 by Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev Pehalwan, who is facing trial separately. The prime accused Vikas got rid of Nitish as he was opposed to his proximity to his sister Bharti Yadav.
Earlier, even as the trial court fixed Wednesday for pronouncing the verdict, defence moved a plea in the High Court on Tuesday seeking to restrain it from doing so. The High Court also listed the matter for Wednesday.
Around 10.15 a.m. on Wednesday, when the accused were summoned to the dock, defence counsel told judge Ravinder Kaur that the plea of the accused was scheduled to come up in the High Court shortly. However, when the court learnt that the High Court had not granted any stay, it went ahead with the verdict. The High Court later dismissed the plea, saying it had become infructuous.
Mother thanks media
Coming out of the court, Neelam Katara, mother of Nitish, thanked god and also the media for their support throughout the long-drawn trial. Nitin Katara, brother of Nitish, also hailed the judgment.
Back in August 2002, the Supreme Court transferred the case to a Delhi sessions court from a Ghaziabad court as Ms. Neelam Katara expressed apprehensions of miscarriage of justice. Subsequently, the case went through hundreds of hearings and many controversies, particularly surrounding the key prosecution witness Ajay Katara.
While the court reserved its judgment in April, defence sought re-examination of Ajay in the wake of a sting operation carried out by a local daily in which he allegedly admitted to having lied in the court to favour the prosecution.
Another key moment came earlier in November 2006, when Ms. Bharti deposed in the case. She had been out of the country since the murder and had not responded to several summonses issued by the court since April 2003.
According to the prosecution, Nitish, son of an IAS officer, was kidnapped on the fateful night by the accused from outside a marriage venue at Kavi Nagar in Ghaziabad and then killed. The partly burnt body was recovered off the highway at Khurja in Uttar Pradesh on February 20, 2002.
The accused were arrested in Madhya Pradesh in April 2002 and the charge sheet was filed in November the same year.