NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the conviction of Vikas Yadav, his cousin Vishal and Sukhdev Pehalwan in the sensational 2002 Nitish Katara murder case saying “only criminals are crying for justice” in this country.
The court upheld the findings of the trial court and the Delhi High Court and only agreed to consider the limited aspect relating to the 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 to 30 years imprisonment and 25 years incarceration to Sukhdev Yadav alias Pehelwan without the benefit of remission.
The Bench comprising Justices J S Khehar and Adarsh Kumar Goel, heard senior lawyers, including U R Lalit at length before saying that the High Court order “does not call for” any intervention.
The court, however, issued notice to the Delhi government on the scope of punishment and sought the reply within six weeks.
During the hearing, advocate Lalit said that three convicts have been awarded life term for one injury on the head of the victim.
On this the Bench said, “In honour killings” such things happen and 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”.
The court also 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”.
Lalit, however, tried hard to convince the Bench and said that the witness, who lived in Shahadara, had been stranded on the middle of the road after his scooter broke down near Hapur Chungi around 12.30 am, forcing the Tata Safari to pull up behind him.
The man, who does not remember the address of his rented house, approaches the police after a month of the incident and gives statement that he identifies the three accused.