Nitish Katara murder case; Conviction upheld by Delhi High Court [Read the Judgment]

Nitish Katara murder case; Conviction upheld by Delhi High Court [Read the Judgment]

Almost a year after reserving its verdict on appeals of three convicts against a lower court order awarding rigorous life imprisonment to them for abducting and killing Nitish Katara in 2002, Delhi High Court today passed an order which runs in to 1193 pages upholding the conviction of three convicts in the Nitish Katara murder case and said Katara’s murder was a case of “honor killing.” The arguments on quantum of sentence were posted for April 25.

On April 16 last year, a Bench of Justices Gita Mittal and J. R. Midha reserved the verdict on appeals of Vikas Yadav, son of Uttar Pradesh politician D. P. Yadav, his cousin Vishal and Sukhdev Yadav, after hearing final arguments. Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev Pehalwan are serving life term for abducting and killing Nitish Katara, a business executive and son of an IAS officer, on the prevailing night of February 16-17, 2002.

On April 16, 2012, the lawyers for the convicts, State and Neelam Katara, mother of the victim, had started advancing final arguments. The trial court in the year 2008 convicted Vikas and Vishal. The trial court however, tried separately and sentenced to life term their accomplice Pehlwan, who had escaped for some time but was arrested in 2005, was by the trial court.

The court has heard five appeals filed by three convicts against their conviction and one each from the prosecution and Neelam Katara, seeking award of death penalty to the persons found guilty by the lower court. However, it was the court’s decision to separate the appeals filed by the victim's mother and the prosecution from that of convicts. The allegation leveled by the prosecution was that the Yadavs allegedly killed the victim, as they did not accept his alleged affair with their sister Bharti Yadav.

Relevant extracts of the Judgment as follows


"The present case again brings to the fore a malaise which still afflicts Indian society that finds its roots in entrenched social structures based on religion, caste and economic standing. What is of special concern is that such divisive forces exist even on the borders of Delhi – the nation‘s Capital, which is also a cosmopolitan city".

 

 

"Honour killing‘ is a class of offences by itself. Its motivation stemming from a deeply entrenched belief in the caste system, it is completely unacceptable. It needs serious examination as to why such murders are not categorized as separate offences in the penal provision".

 

"In honour killings, the murdered person is the victim of extreme physical violence, perhaps prior emotional torture as well, resulting in his/her death. However society seems to have overlooked the plight of the murdered person‘s partner. Say if the boy, in an inter-caste alliance is murdered, what happens to the girl? The right to choose your life partner or whom you associate with is a fundamental right, it is an integral part of the right to life. Even though marriage as a right has not received statutory recognition in any legislation in India, judicial pronouncement has, however, held that the individual‘s privacy of marriage and dignity are essential concomitants of the right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India which are to be afforded protection".


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