The Supreme Court on Monday awarded a 25-year jail term each to Vikas Yadav and his cousin Vishal Yadav for their role in the kidnapping and killing of Nitish Katara in 2002.
A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan also handed down a 20-year jail sentence to their co-convict Sukhdev Pehalwan in the case.
The bench modified the Delhi high court verdict that had said that separate jail terms of 25 years and five years for the offences of murder and destruction of evidence would run consecutively against Vikas and Vishal.
The court said both the jail terms would run concurrently that would effectively lead to the award of 25 years of imprisonment to the Yadavs.
Simultaneously, Pehalwan, who was granted 25-year jail term in the case by the high court, will now have to face 20-year imprisonment in the matter.
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 and an additional five years for destruction of evidence in the case, terming Katara’s murder as ‘honour killing’.
The Yadavs' acquaintance Sukhdev Yadav alias Pehelwan was then awarded an enhanced life sentence of 25 years without remission by the high court which had held that the crime fell in ‘rarest of rare category’, but saved them from the gallows saying possibility of their reformation and rehabilitation was not ‘unforseeably foreclosed’.
The Supreme Court had on August 17, 2015, upheld the conviction of Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev, saying ‘only criminals are crying for justice’ in this country.
Earlier, the high court had held that the murder of Katara, who was in love with Vikas’ sister, was an ‘honour killing’ which was done in a ‘very carefully planned and premeditated’ manner with ‘extreme vengeance’.
It had also enhanced the fines imposed on Vikas and Vishal by slapping an amount of Rs 54 lakh each on them.
Vikas, 39, Vishal, 37, and Sukhdev, 40, were serving life term awarded by the lower court in May 2008 for abducting and killing Katara, a business executive and the son of a railway officer, on the night of February 16-17, 2002, as they opposed the victim's affair with Bharti, daughter of Uttar Pradesh politician D P Yadav.
The high court had on April 2, 2014, 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 belonged to different castes, the lower court had said.
IMAGE: File photo of Nitish Katara and Bharti Yadav.