Describing the 2002 sensational murder of young business executive Nitish Katara as an honour killing “executed with extreme vengeance,” the Delhi High Court on Friday enhanced the life sentences awarded to Vikas Yadav and his cousin Vishal Yadav to 30 years’ imprisonment, of which 25 years will be without remission.
The stringent punishment for the offence, which the Court said had led to “incalculable and intangible losses” to Nitish’s family, also involved imposition of a penalty of Rs. 54 lakh each, on Vikas Yadav, son of Uttar Pradesh politician D.P. Yadav, and Vishal Yadav.
A Special Bench comprising Justice Gita Mittal and Justice J.R. Midha, pronounced the 594-page judgment which it had reserved on December 24, 2014 after a detailed hearing on the appeals filed by the convicts and the State as well as a revision petition moved by Nitish’s mother Neelam Katara. The Bench had on April 2, 2014, upheld the 2008 conviction by the trial court.
The Court also increased the jail term of another convict, Sukhdev Pehelwan, to 25 years. As part of the total number of years in the sentence, five years’ terms were awarded to each convict for destruction of evidence while the principal imprisonment was for murder and kidnapping of Nitish with common intention.
The Court turned down the plea of Ms. Katara and the Delhi police seeking death sentence for the three convicts.
Expressing disappointment over the Delhi High Court’s rejection of her plea, Ms. Katara said: “We will move the Supreme Court after studying the judgment, if the law allows us.”
Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev, currently serving life term following their conviction by the Sessions Court, had killed Nitish – son of an Indian Administrative Service officer – on the night of February 16-17, 2002, after abducting him from a marriage party in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, as they were opposed to his friendship with Bharti, sister of Vikas.
The Court, while asking the Union government to conduct an inquiry into the convicts’ repeated visits to the hospital during their stay in jail, directed that the time spent by Vikas in hospital would not be counted as period already undergone by him in jail.
Of the fine imposed on Vikas and Vishal, Rs. 40 lakh will be paid to Ms. Katara towards the costs incurred by her in pursuing the matter and defending the cases since 2002, while Rs. 50 lakh will be paid to the Delhi Government and Rs. 10 lakh to the Uttar Pradesh Government.