|Nitish Katara’s mother Neelam at the Delhi High Court. (Source: Express photo by Anil Sharma)|
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Nitish Katara murder: SC rejects plea for death sentence to three
Written by Utkarsh Anand |New Delhi |Updated: October 3, 2016 2:57:13 pm
"If it is not planned, strictly speaking it will not be murder. If it is in heat of the moment, it will come under exception clause of Section 300 (murder),” observed the court.
“It is a murder and just that… like most murders happen to be,” observed the Supreme Court as it refused to hand out the death sentence to the three convicts in the Nitish Katara murder case. Rejecting a plea by Katara’s mother, Neelam, the top court said convicts Vikas and Vishal Yadav — who are cousins — and Sukhdev Pehelwan cannot be given the death sentence nor can they be incarcerated for life since the offence was not a matter of honour killing or committed in a heinous manner. “Nobody can relieve the pain of a mother when a child is lost. It is too big a pain to be relieved by anything or any order. But you will have to show to us how this is heinous? How can this be brought under the rarest of rare category?” said a bench of Justice J S Khehar and Justice R Banumati.
“It (murder) may be planned but it certainly is not heinous. And every murder is planned. Tell us which murder is not planned? If it is not planned, strictly speaking it will not be murder. If it is in heat of the moment, it will come under exception clause of Section 300 (murder),” observed the court. It added, “What has happened is not condonable but they don’t deserve death for this… not even full life.” The cousins have been sentenced to 30 years in jail by the Delhi High Court for the executive’s murder. After the court order, Neelam told The Indian Express, “I respect the court’s decision. Perhaps we failed in putting across our points clearly. We will come prepared with more facts next time but this fight shall continue. Today’s order has given me more strength to fight.”
During the hearing, the bench had asked senior advocate Harish Salve, who appeared for Neelam, to demonstrate as to why the punishment of death was the only fitting sentence. Salve sought to convince the bench that Nitish – who was 25 years when the incident happened – was taken away from a wedding party in Ghaziabad by Vikas and Vishal and brutally done to death in cold blood. Nitish was reportedly in a relationship with Bharti Yadav, daughter of UP politician D P Yadav and Vikas’s sister. “If this is not rarest of rare then what else could be? The victim was picked up from a party where he was seen with the girl and was killed… It is an honour killing since the family did not want the boy to be in a relationship with this girl,” argued Salve. The bench, however, shot down the honour killing argument. It noted the records of the case which showed that both families appeared to know about their relationship and there was no plausible reason why the girl’s family could have objections when Nitish was also from a good family.
It observed that Bharti had invited Nitish for her sister’s wedding in the knowledge of her family and the cousins got enraged after seeing them together on the dance floor. When Salve pointed out that Nitish’s body was burnt after killing him, the bench said, “It was a corpse that was burnt. Show us if the victim was killed in a heinous manner such as his body was cut into pieces when he was alive. something abhorrent. Here he was killed in one blow (of a hammer). The body charred was corpse. This will eventually be under Section 201 (destruction of evidence).” Salve then asked the court to underscore that a youngster was killed. The bench replied, “Yes. A youngster was killed by youngsters. They (cousins) were also really young when they did it. It is all emotional. They saw them dancing together, kept a grudge in their heart and took the boy away and killed him.”