In a drawn out Judgment upholding the conviction in Nitish Katara Murder Case Court Justice Gita Mittal set out her words clarifying that Justice to all – the accused, the society as well as a fair chance to prove to the prosecution – is not only an integral part of the criminal justice system but it is its prime objective.
Judgment discusses in detail a chain of circumstances that proved the case beyond reasonable doubt and that led to the conviction of appellants.
The 23 proved Circumstances discussed in the judgment are as follows;
1. The deceased Nitish Katara and Bharti Yadav (sister of Vikas Yadav; first cousin sister of Vishal Yadav and; daughter of Shri D.P. Yadav who was also the employer of Sukhdev @ Pehalwan) were in an intimate relationship aiming towards permanency. The family members of Bharti Yadav, including Vikas and Vishal Yadav, were opposed to this relationship. The aversion stemmed from the reason that Nitish Katara did not belong to the same caste as Bharti Yadav and because his family belonged to the service class, therefore, was not in the same economic stratification as them. This provided the motive for the brothers to commit the offence and Sukhdev @ Pehalwan shared in this motive. 2. Nitish Katara and the appellants were present at the Diamond Palace Banquet Hall which was the wedding venue of Shivani Gaur (friend of Bharti Yadav) at the same time on the night of 16/17th February, 2002.3. Vishal Yadav and Sukhdev @ Pehalwan had not been invited to the wedding and had no reason for being there, other than perpetration of the crime.
4. Nitish Katara was abducted from the wedding venue by the appellants with the common intention to murder him.
5. At around midnight, Nitish Katara was seen with the appellants in a Tata Safari vehicle at a short distance from the Diamond Palace Banquet Hall (15-20 steps at a turn where a police patrol gypsy Chetak 13 was parked) where the wedding was being held.
6. The deceased was last seen alive at around 12:20/12:30 am at the Hapur Chungi by prosecution witness Ajay Kumar Katara in the company of the three appellants in the Tata Safari vehicle which was being driven by Vikas Yadav. Nitish was seated in the front passenger seat next to the driver while the other two appellants sat in the rear seat.
7. In furtherance of their common intention Nitish Katara was thereafter murdered by the appellants.
8. After murdering Nitish Katara, the appellants removed his clothes, wrist watch and mobile from his person and set aflame his dead body with the intention of preventing identification of the body and destroying evidence of the commission of the offence.
9. Immediately after the incident, the three appellants absconded.
10. The dead body of Nitish Katara was found at 9:30 a.m. in the morning of 17th February, 2002 in a completely burnt, naked and unidentifiable condition on the Shikharpur Road which was recovered by the Khurja Police.
11. The time at which the deceased was last seen alive in the company of the appellants was proximate to the time when he was murdered as well as the subsequent discovery of his body.
12. As Nitish Katara did not reach his residence after the wedding, Nilam Katara lodged a police complaint of her son being missing with the police station Kavi Nagar, Ghaziabad at about 11:30 a.m. on the 17thof February, 2002 which was registered as FIR No.192/02 under Section 364 of the IPC.
13. The post-mortem had been conducted on the recovered dead body at 3:30 p.m. on the 18th of February, 2002 by Dr. Anil Singhal, Orthopaedics Surgeon at the District Hospital, Bulandshehr. As per the post-mortem (Exh.PW3/3) the cause of death was death due to coma as a result of ante-mortem head injury with post mortem burns.
14. The body was having a lacerated wound on the head, a fracture in the skull, laceration and hematoma in the brain immediately below the fracture. The doctor had opined the head injury to be sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature.
15. The intimation of the recovery of the dead body was given by the Khurja Police to the Ghaziabad Police on the 19th February, 2002. The body was identified by Nilam Katara on 21st of February 2002 as that of her missing son Nitish Katara from his unburnt left hand. The report dated 7th of March, 2002 of the DNA examination confirmed the identity of the dead body as that of Nitish Katara.
16. Vikas and Vishal Yadav stage-managed their arrest at Dabra, Madhya Pradesh at 4:00 a.m. on the 23rd of February, 2002. They were brought to Ghaziabad police under orders of transit remand by the Judicial Magistrate, Dabra and produced before the CJM, Ghaziabad on the morning of 25th of February 2002.
17. The investigating officer recorded the statements under Section 161 of the Cr.P.C. of these appellants in the Ghaziabad jail on the night of 25th February, 2002 in which Vikas and Vishal Yadav made separately disclosure statements about knowledge of the place where the crime was committed as well as the place where the dead body was burnt and the fact that one Pehalwan was their accomplice. Both of them also stated that the Tata Safari vehicle which had been used on the fateful night could be pointed out by them. Vikas Yadav additionally disclosed that he could point out the place where the hammer used in the offence had been hidden by him. Vishal Yadav also additionally disclosed in his statement that he could get recovered the wrist watch and mobile of the deceased which had been hidden by him.
18. On the 28th February, 2002, Vikas and Vishal Yadav accompanied by their counsel Shri Satpal Singh Yadav, Advocate pointed out to the police the spot near Aughwar Railway Crossing where the crime was committed and then the spot where the body was burnt and the site plans were prepared. Thereafter after searching for the same amongst the clump of pattel bushes, which were two to three feet high, Vikas Yadav got recovered an iron hammer with blood stains on its narrow end. Vishal Yadav searched in another clump of pattel bushes and got recovered therefrom a wrist watch of the make Espirit. A joint recovery memo of the articles was recorded on the spot itself which was signed by Vikas and Vishal Yadav and given to the counsel Shri Satpal Singh Yadav there and then who acknowledged its receipt on the document.
19. On the 28th of February 2002, Vikas and Vishal Yadav thereafter deliberately misled the police and took them to three places in Alwar (Rajasthan) to search for Tata Safari vehicle which was obviously not there.
20. On the 11th March, 2002, Vikas and Vishal Yadav jointly misled the police to the taxi stand behind Shamshan Ghat (cremation ground) in Panipat to search for the Tata Safari which was again not there, and, enroute to Chandigarh for the same purpose, got recovered the Tata Safari vehicle bearing registration no.PB-07H 0085 recovered from the burnt down factory premises of M/s A.B. Coltex Limited. The management of this firm was controlled by Oswal Sugar Limited, a company in which Shri D.P. Yadav, father of Vikas Yadav was a Director. The recovered Tata Safari Vehicle was also owned by the same company.
21. The serologist report dated 6th March, 2002 confirmed that the blood on the narrow end of the hammer head was human blood.
22. A Test Identification Pararde of the recovered wrist watch of ESPIRIT make was conducted on 2nd April, 2002. This wrist watch was identified by Nilam Katara, mother of the deceased as the watch worn by the deceased Nitish Katara on 16th February, 2002 to the wedding.
23. The appellant Sukhdev @ Pehalwan remained absconding for over three and half years despite extensive searches, raids; issuance of coercive process; attachment even at his native village. He could be arrested only on the 23rd of February, 2005 after he fired at police patrol party.
Court also observed that the setting up of false defenses by the appellants which have been disbelieved by us provided additional linkage to the chain of proven circumstances against the appellants.
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