The Delhi High Court today commuted the death sentences of all three convicted for the 2002 murder of Nitish Katara and while it upheld their conviction, it awarded a prison term of 25 years without remission to the son of Uttar Pradesh politician DP Yadav's son, Vikas. The two other convicts, Vishal Yadav and Sukhdev Pehelwan, were also sentenced to 25 and 20 years in jail respectively.
The high court verdict came following the appeal by the trio challenging the death sentence awarded to them by the trial court. The high court also instructed Vikas and Vishal to pay a Rs 50 lakh each.
Speaking about the high court's verdict, Katara's mother, Neelam told reporters,"Vikas and Vishal will be given 25 years plus five years during where there won't be remission."
Although Neelam expressed happiness over the increased duration of jail for the trio, she was unhappy that the high court turned down the prosecution's plea for capital punishment.
"We will petition the Supreme Court, I think in such cases there should be capital punishment. To the extent that the punishment has been enhanced from a simple life sentence I am happy. But I am disappointed that capital punishment was turned down," she said.
Vikas, his cousin Vishal Yadav and Sukhdev Pehelwan are already serving life terms for abducting and killing Katara, a business executive and the son of an IAS officer, on the night of 16-17 February 2002. They committed the murder because they were opposed the victim's relationship with Bharti, DP Yadav's daughter.
A special bench of justices Gita Mittal and and JR Midha delivered the verdict on the petitions in the 13-year-old case after concluding hearing arguments on sentence against the convicts on 8 December last year.
The court has been hearing arguments on the punishment to be awarded to the three convicts since April 2014.
The convicts have sought leniency in sentencing as well as exemption from death sentence saying they can reform and their actions were not so brutal or gruesome that it deserved capital punishment.
On the other hand, the victim's mother, Neelam and the Delhi Police had demanded death for the trio, terming their offence to be the rarest of rare. If not capital punishment, the convicts be handed down an enhanced life sentence, they had contended.
The high court had on 2 April 2014, upheld the verdict of the lower court in the case by describing the offence as "honour killing" stemming from a "deeply-entrenched belief" in caste system.
Katara was abducted and killed by Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev as they did not approve of the victim's affair with Bharti because they belonged to different castes, the court had said.
The high court had dismissed the appeals of the convicts and kept pending two separate pleas of the state and Neelam seeking death penalty for them.
Updated Date: Feb 07, 2015 10:27:35 IST