The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the conviction and life sentences of, Vikas Yadav, Vishal Yadav and their aide Sukhdev Pehalwan in the sensational Nitish Katara murder case that rocked the national capital in 2002. The apex court however, quantitatively reduced the the quantum of sentence handed out by the Delhi High Court in 2014 from 30 years to 25 years for the key accused Vikas and his cousin Vishal. Sukhdev's sentence was reduced from the initial 25 years to 20 years, according to ANI.
The Supreme Court ruled that the jail sentence of the three convicts for murder and destruction of evidence will run concurrently, and not consecutively, which effectively reduced the sentences of the three by five years each, according to ANI. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan were hearing the appeals filed by Vikas and Vishal against the Delhi High Court order which awarded them life sentence.
The Delhi court had handed out a life term for 25 years in jail without remission and an additional five years for destruction of evidence to the Yadav brothers, while awarding their acquaintance Sukhdev Yadav alias Pehelwan an enhanced life sentence of 25 years. The Delhi High Court had ruled for the sentences to run consecutively by terming the murder of Katara as "honour killing" and a crime that fell in "rarest of rare category." The high court had however saved them from the gallows stating that the possibility of their reformation and rehabilitation is not "unforseeably foreclosed".
Reacting to the Supreme Court ruling, Neelam Katara, Nitish's mother said that she is happy with the ruling qualitatively as the apex court had observed that this was "no ordinary murder but a case of honour killing," which she said is a "huge thing for the youth of the country," as reported on NDTV.
However, senior advocate KTS Tulsi, appearing for the accused told ANI that this was not a case where the court should have prescribed a life term longer than the usual 14 years as their was no malicious or greedy intent behind the murder.
Nitish, a business executive and the son of an IAS officer, was murdered on 17 February 2002, for allegedly having an affair with Bharti Yadav, the daughter of Uttar Pradesh-based politician DP Yadav. Katara's body was found on a highway. He had been battered to death with a hammer, following which diesel was poured on him and he was set on fire.