The Supreme Court Monday dismissed a petition filed by the Delhi government, seeking death penalty for the convicts, Vikas and Vishal Yadav, in the 2002 Nitish Katara murder case.
A bench of Justices J S Khehar and R Banumathi observed that the court has already examined a plea for death penalty by the victim’s mother, Neelam Katara, and dismissed it since the offence and the manner in which it was committed did not come under the ‘rarest of rare’ category. “It (murder) was by one blow… can it be death penalty (for the convicts). It is a very serious matter but we have already declined a plea for death penalty. We are not inclined to agree on enhancement of the sentence,” remarked the bench, as senior advocate Gopal Subramanium urged the court to reconsider its previous order.
Subramanium, arguing for the Delhi government, said the impact of the crime had to be taken into consideration. The bench responded that it was also willing to examine if there can be some punishment “between life term and death sentence”.
The court added, “We will see… if there can be a punishment in between… There has to be something between life imprisonment and the death penalty… that is why this case is very important.”
The bench then sought Subramanium’s assistance in the matter and fixed the case for a final hearing in the first week of February.
The court will consider whether the 30-year imprisonment awarded to Vikas and Vishal, who are cousins, is adequate or not.
While rejecting Neelam’s plea for enhancement of punishment for the convicts, the bench had observed last month, “It is a murder and just that… like most murders happen to be”. It had added that convicts Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev Pehelwan cannot be given the death sentence nor can they be incarcerated for life since the offence was not a matter of honour killing or committed in a heinous manner.