NEW DELHI: The fate of Vikas Yadav, his cousin Vishal and Sukhdev Pehalwan in the sensational 2002 Nitish Katara murder case were sealed today with the Supreme Court upholding their conviction, saying "only criminals are crying for justice" in this country.
The apex court, which upheld the findings of the trial court and the Delhi High Court without issuing notices on the appeals of Vikas and Sukhdev, however, agreed to consider the limited aspect relating to enhancement of quantum of sentence of the three convicts by the High Court.
The High Court had termed the award of life term "simplicitor" to the convicts as inconsequential and enhanced the life term of three convicts -- Vikas and Vishal Yadav to 30 years imprisonment and 25 years incarceration to Sukhdev Yadav alias Pehelwan -- without the benefit of remission.
The apex court bench, comprising Justices J S Khehar and Adarsh Kumar Goel, heard senior lawyers including U R Lalit for almost two hours before saying that the High Court order "does not call for" any intervention.
It, however, issued notice to the Delhi government on the scope of punishment and sought the reply within six weeks.
At the outset, the moment Lalit opened his arguments saying the three convicts have been awarded life term for one injury on the head of the victim, the bench observed, "in honour killings" such things happen.
The bench then referred to the fact that almost of all prosecution witnesses had "resiled" from their statements in the trial court and said, "this shows how much power you wielded".
It trashed the submission that key prosecution witness Ajay Katara, who had last seen the victim alive in the company of the three accused in a Tata Safari car on the intervening night of February 16-17, 2002 at Hapur Chungi in Ghaziabad, was a "planted and fabricated" witness.
All witnesses had resiled and only this man recorded his statement against the accused and "you want to demolish" his testimony, the bench said during the hearing, adding "show us something glaring. Otherwise, we are not with you."
Lending credence to witness Katara, it said that he had shown "overwhelming courage" and "if you (advocate) cannot dent Ajay Katara then we are not with you."