Nitish Katara murder: Court reserves judgment

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Tuesday reserved its judgment on appeals of three convicts against a trial court verdict awarding them life imprisonment for abducting and killing Nitish Katara in 2002.

A division bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice J.R. Midha reserved the judgment after all the parties concluded their arguments in the appeals whose hearing started April 16 last year.

The court was hearing appeals of convicts Vikas Yadav, brother of Katara’s friend Bharti, and Vishal Yadav, Bharti’s cousin, and contract killer Sukhdev Pehalwan, who are serving life terms in Tihar Jail.

The prosecution and the victim’s mother Neelam Katara have also filed appeals seeking enhancement of sentence of the convicts. They sought death penalty for the murderers.

According to prosecution, Vikas and Vishal killed Katara on the night of Feb 17, 2002 after abducting him from a marriage party in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad.

The court decided to segregate the appeals filed by Katara’s mother and the prosecution from that of the convicts and fixed their hearing for directions May 24.

Seeking death penalty for the convicts, the prosecution told the high court that Nitish Katara and Bharti Yadav were in an “intense relationship” and her family’s opposition to their friendship led to the killing of Katara, son of an Indian Administrative Service officer.

Vikas and Bharti are children of former MP D.P. Yadav.

The prosecutor sought death penalty for the convicts and said: “If the court does not give death penalty, my appeal would press for the maximum punishment.”

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Vishal Yadav, sought a re-trial.

Jethmalani said the trial was not conducted in accordance with law.

“We are very very much willing for the re-trial, and we wish the re-trial to start from the prosecution of witness no.1,” Jethmalani told the bench.

Vishal was convicted in 2008 along with his cousin Vikas for kidnapping and murdering.

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