Will be declared "proclaimed offender" if she fails to appear before it on September 28

New Delhi: Giving a last chance to London-based Bharti Yadav to testify as a prosecution witness in the Nitish Katara murder case, a Delhi court on Saturday asked the elusive daughter of Uttar Pradesh politician D.P. Yadav to appear before it on September 28, failing which she would be declared a "proclaimed offender."

Amidst much ado about Ms. Yadav'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 Ms. Yadav'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 Ms. Yadav fails to appear before the trial court on September 28, she would be declared a "proclaimed offender," which attracts a three-year imprisonment.

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 Ms. Yadav's decision to depose in court as expressed in the latter's fax, Ms. Neelam Katara 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."