The Delhi high court on Friday allowed Vikas Yadav, convicted for killing Nitish Katara, to meet his ailing grandfather by granting him custody parole of two days as a test to see if he is "fit to be let out in society".
The court, for the time being, refused to pass any order regarding his plea for three months parole saying, "We need to see your conduct, so we will deliver judgment later on your main plea. We will test this slowly."
A bench of justices Gita Mittal and J R Midha made it clear that Vikas is to be taken by jail authorities to meet his grandfather at 6 am on August 30 and 31 and each day he would be brought back to the prison by 7 pm.
"It will enable you to meet your grandfather who wishes to see you and it will enable us to see how you behave outside. We need to see if you are fit to be let out in society," the bench said.
The court passed the interim order after observing that a witness in the case is residing in Ghaziabad, where Vikas' ancestral home is located, who is even now under police protection as there is apprehension that his life is in danger.
"That person is still getting protection and you will be in close proximity," the bench said. Advocate Sumeet Verma, appearing for the convict, said that his client's conduct in prison has been satisfactory according to the status report of Delhi Police and added that he is also involved in various creative activities, including arts and crafts as well as writing poetry, inside the jail.
The bench, however, refused to grant three months parole at this stage, saying "these are not tested waters". "His conduct in prison was satisfactory only after intervention of the court," it added.
Advocate Rajesh Mahajan, appearing for the police, agreed with the court's view saying "it is a fair suggestion".
The status report submitted by the Delhi police contains an analysis of Vikas's conduct by the probation officer who has observed that the convict "never got an opportunity to prove/show his rectified or modified attitude to life".
The probation officer also said that "he (Vikas) be provided an opportunity to live with self rectified behaviour and changed attitude of life". Vikas, son of politician D P Yadav, had sought three months' parole saying he has to visit his 93-year-old grandfather, who has recently undergone angioplasty.
He said that he has been in jail for the past 12-and-a- half years and his conduct has been good throughout. He also said that he wishes to challenge in the Supreme Court his conviction by the high court in the murder case and requires time to prepare his appeal.
In his plea, he further said that he had approached the Delhi government to grant him parole under the special rights given to prisoners. However, no decision was taken and hence, he approached the high court.
The court will now hear his parole petition on September 26. The arguments on sentence to be awarded to the three convicts remained inconclusive and will continue on September 5.
Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev are serving life term for abducting and killing Katara, a business executive and son of an Indian Administrative Service officer, on the intervening night of February 16-17, 2002. They did not approve of the victim's affair with Bharti, daughter of D P Yadav.
The high court had on April 2 upheld the verdict of the lower court in the case by describing the offence as "honour killing" stemming from a "deeply-entrenched belief" in caste system. Katara was abducted and killed by Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev as they did not approve of the victim's affair with Bharti because they belong to different castes, the court had said.
The high court had dismissed the appeals of the convicts and kept pending two separate pleas of the state and Neelam Katara seeking death penalty for them.