The Supreme Court on October 3 modified the jail terms for Vikas Yadav (39), Vishal Yadav (37) and Sukhdev Pehlwan (40) in the 2002 Nitish Katara murder case, reducing them by five years each.
The Delhi High Court had earlier sentenced Vikas to 25 years in jail under murder charge and another five years for destruction of evidence. Similarly, it was 20 years for Sukhdev for murder and an additional five years for destroying evidence.
A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan modified the Delhi high court verdict and allowed their sentences to run concurrently rather than consecutively.
The SC sentenced a third convict in the case, Sukhdev Pehalwan, to 20 years in prison.
The top court upheld the High Court order on specifying a minimum jail term without remission and said courts are empowered to do so.
The Yadavs were convicted for the 2002 killing of 25-year-old business executive Nitish Katara. Vikas, the son of criminal politician D P Yadav, and cousin Vishal Yadav killed Katara on the night of February 17, 2002, after abducting him from a marriage party in Ghaziabad. They were opposed to Katara’s friendship with Vikas’ sister Bharti.
The crime had raised a public cry for justice.
The order came on the appeals filed by Vikas and Vishal against the Delhi high court order which had enhanced the life term to 25 years in jail without remission.
The Delhi high court then held that the murder of Katara, who was in love with Vikas’s sister Bharati, was an “honour killing”, which was done in a very “carefully planned and premeditated” manner with “extreme vengeance”.
Although the Delhi high court didn’t give them the death penalty — despite holding the murder to be a “rarest of rare” crime — it enhanced the life sentence handed to them by the trial court.