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Katara murder case: 'Trial judge ignored sting operation'

April 24, 2012 20:38 IST

Vikas Yadav, a convict in the 2002 Nitish Katara murder case, Tuesday told the Delhi high court that the trial judge had "brushed aside" the findings of a sting operation "discrediting" the testimony of key witness Ajay Katara.

"Ajay Katara, courtesy whose testimony I was convicted and have been in jail for last 10 years, took a complete u-turn in a sting operation and claimed that he was a planted witness and in fact was not there at Hapur chungi (a tax collection booth) where he allegedly last saw the victim alive in the company of three accused," advocate Sumit Verma, appearing for Vikas, told a bench of justices Gita Mittal and J R Midha.

Referring to a news on the sting operation published in daily 'Metro Now', the lawyer said the lower court did not allow Vikas' subsequent plea to re-examine Ajay Katara in the light of conflicting facts emerging out in the case.

Witness Katara had testified that he had seen Nitish alive last in the company of Vikas, Vishal Yadav and Sukhdev Pehalwan in a Tata Safari on the night of February 16-17, 2002 near Hapur octroi post.

The statement was relied upon by the trial judge as the "last seen evidence" to link the offence with the accused.

Katara, however, in a sting operation, had later admitted that he was a planted witness and did not see the accused and the victim together in the car on the fateful night, said Vikas' counsel.

The trial court though referred to the sting operation in its judgement, it did not allow the plea of the accused to re-examine the witness, he said.

It, however, accepted Katara's affidavit which said that his testimony should be believed as his statements, in the sting CD, were made in an inebriated condition, he said.

The counsel for Vikas also submitted a CD of the sting operation to the court, saying that it should be viewed to ascertain the key witness' credibility.

He, however, said the witness had used very "filthy" language in the sting operation and hence, the CD be not watched in an open courtroom.

The transcripts of the CD would also establish that the witness was known to the family of the victim, he said and also cited various judgments in support of his case.

The advancing of the arguments in the case remained inconclusive and would continue on Wednesday.

Vikas, son of UP politician D P Yadav, had earlier said that the denial of opportunity to him to cross-examine Ajay Katara on material aspects had "vitiated" his trial.

Vikas, his cousin Vishal and Sukhdev Pehalwan were awarded life term for killing Katara, a business executive, after abducting him from a marriage party at Ghaziabad on the intervening night of February 16-17, 2002.

The trial court, in its judgement on May 28, 2008, had relied on various circumstantial evidence including Ajay's testimony.

Ajay's statement was relied upon by the trial judge as the "last seen evidence" to link the offence with the accused.

The prosecution had said Katara was killed for his alleged intimacy with Vikas' sister Bharti.

The convicts had moved the high court seeking reversal of the trial court's findings. Police and Neelam Katara, the mother of slain youth Nitish Katara, have filed appeals for award of death penalty, saying the offence was of the "rarest of rare" category.

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