Nitish Katara was honour killing: court (Lead)

May 30th, 2008 - 9:35 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Terming the killing of Nitish Katara an “honour killing”, a city court Friday sentenced to life imprisonment guilty cousins Vikas and Vishal Yadav in the 2002 murder. Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Kaur rejected the prosecution’s contention of awarding death penalty to the Yadavs while awarding them life. The court also imposed a fine of Rs.160,000 each.

“I am of the view that the case did not fall under the ‘rarest of rare’ category. The post-mortem report speaks of only single injury on the skull of the deceased, which is proved to have been caused by a hammer, which in my opinion cannot be termed as brutal,” Kaur said.

“I cannot lose sight of the fact that there were three accused persons, but only one injury is found on the body of the deceased, which was the cause of his death, which in my opinion is a great mitigating circumstance in favour of the convicts,” the judge said in her order that ran into approximately 1,100 pages.

Giving her views on the nature of crime, Kaur ruled: “The Nitish Katara murder was an honour killing by the accused persons as they did not like their sister having an affair with a boy of a different caste and they could never accept her plans to marry him.”

She further said: “In my opinion it is not the death penalty which is deterred in which a person is hanged to death in a few seconds, on the contrary it is the life imprisonment which is deterred wherein the convict dies every moment in the jail.”

After the sentence was passed, Nitish Katara’s mother Neelam, who has fought for the past six years to get the two convicted, said: “I respect the decision of the court.”

The court had on Wednesday held influential Uttar Pradesh politician D.P. Yadav’s son Vikas Yadav and nephew Vishal Yadav guilty for the murder of Nitish Katara.

The court had found them guilty of murder, kidnapping and destruction of evidence.

The prosecution held that the cousins had killed Nitish, son of an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, on the night of Feb 16-17, 2002, as they did not approve his close ties with Vikas’ sister Bharti.

Nitish was kidnapped and murdered after he attended a wedding in Ghaziabad that night. His body was found in a village in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh.

Remarking that Bharti’s deposition in the court was crucial, the judge observed: “I feel her conduct… did not (do) justice to the soul of the deceased without whom she had claimed she could not survive.”

Bharti, now based in Britain, had avoided court summons apparently under family pressure, before deposing before it.

She tried to make a “balanced statement” in the court as she had already lost Nitish and did not want to lose her brother, the judge noted.

“From the conduct of the accused persons, the inference can be drawn that they were aware of the relationship between the two and Vikas did not appear in the court on both days when Bharti was examined though he was present in the lock-up.

“This shows that he had the knowledge of the relationship between the two and had no courage to face Bharti,” the judge said.

The verdict came as relief for the victim’s mother who had fought for justice against the powerful Yadav family.

“I thank god and the media for helping me out in this long battle. This is a landmark judgement and my belief in the judicial system has increased,” Nitish’s mother Neelam Katara told IANS.

D.P. Yadav, an Uttar Pradesh legislator and former Rajya Sabha member, said: “Injustice has been done to my innocent kids. Some rich, powerful people and bureaucrats have done this.”

Special Public Prosecutor B.S. Joon said: “We are happy”.

Flaying the “negative role” played by the media, defence counsel G.K. Bharti said they would appeal in the higher court.

“The media has played a negative role against us but we will approach the Delhi High Court for justice. The court does not work on emotions and getting a life imprisonment is not an achievement for us,” the counsel for Vikas told reporters minutes after the verdict.

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