NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday sentenced Vikas Yadav and his cousin Vishal Yadav to undergo 25-year jail term each for their roles in the sensational kidnapping and killing of Nitish Katara in 2002. The apex court, however, modified the award of 30-year jail term, handed down to the Yadavs by the Delhi High Court, saying that the 25 year imprisonment for the offence of murder and five year jail term for causing destruction of evidence would run concurrently and not consecutively
A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan also scaled down the jail term of 25 years to 20 years to be awarded to third co-convict Sukhdev Pehalwan in the case.
The SC had concurred with the findings of the High Court that the offence fell under the category of honour killing, deserving harsh punishment, in order to send across a strong message to the possible offenders in its 93-page ruling. “In the instant case, the High Court has thought it appropriate instead of imposing death sentence to impose the sentence as it has done. Therefore, the sentence imposed by the High Court cannot be found fault on that score,” the Bench said.
“Though the High Court treated the murder as ‘honour killing’, yet regard being had to other factors, did not think appropriate to impose extreme penalty of death sentence. We may hasten to clarify that we have highlighted the factum of ‘honour killing’, as that is a seminal ground for imposing the fixed term sentence of 25 years for the offences under section 302/34 IPC on the two accused persons, who though highly educated in good educational institutions, had not cultivated the ability to abandon the depreciable feelings and attitude for centuries,” the Bench said.
“One may feel ‘My honour is my life’ but that does not mean sustaining one’s honour at the cost of another. Freedom, independence, constitutional identity, individual choice and thought of a woman, be a wife or sister or daughter or mother, cannot be allowed to be curtailed definitely not by application of physical force or threat or mental cruelty in the name of his self-assumed honour.”
“That apart, neither the family members nor the members of the collective has any right to assault the boy chosen by the girl. Her individual choice is her self-respect and creating dent in it is destroying her honour. And to impose so called brotherly or fatherly honour or class honour by eliminating her choice is a crime of extreme brutality, more so when it is done under a guise. It is a vice, condemnable and deplorable perception of ‘honour’, comparable to medieval obsessive assertions,” it said.