Nitish Katara murder: SC to examine quantum of life sentence

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it will examine the quantum of life sentence that may be awarded to Yadav cousins Vikas and Vishal who along with Sukhdev Pehalwan were convicted for the murder of Nitish Katara.

The apex court dismissed the Delhi government’s plea for death sentence to the convicts.

The bench, comprising Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice R. Banumathi, declined the plea of the city government seeking death sentence for the three convicts, saying the case did not fall in the “rarest of rare category”.

The court had on October 9 rejected a plea by Neelam Katara — mother of Nitish Katara — seeking enhancement of sentence to death for Vishal and Vikas Yadav for murdering her son in February 2002.

However, on Monday, the court agreed to examine the question of quantum of life sentence on the plea by the Yadav cousins, questioning the award of 30-year sentence to them and 25-year sentence to Pehalwan.

The court told counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the Delhi government, that while it was upholding the conviction and was ruling out enhancing the sentence to death, it would look into the quantum of life imprisonment.

Directing the hearing of the matter in the first week of February 2016, the court told Subramanium that it had already rejected Neelam Katara’s plea for death sentence.

The court had on August 17 upheld the conviction of the Yadav cousins and Pehalwan but had issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on the quantum of punishment.

Nitish Katara, son of an Indian Administrative Service officer, was killed by Vikas Yadav, his cousin Vishal Yadav and Pehalwan on the intervening night of February 16 and 17, 2002, after they abducted him from a marriage party in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad district.

The Yadav cousins were opposed to Katara’s friendship with their sister Bharti.

The Delhi High Court had on February 6 sentenced Vikas and Vishal Yadav to 30 years in prison. Pehalwan was sentenced to 25 years in jail.

The high court had on April 2, 2014 upheld the 2008 trial court judgment that sentenced the three to life imprisonment and had termed the case as that of “honour killing”.