THE Delhi High Court on Friday turned down a plea for the death penalty to Vikas Yadav — son of UP politician D P Yadav — and his cousin Vishal in the 2002 Nitish Katara murder case. But it enhanced their sentence from life imprisonment to 25 years in jail — without remission for the murder charges — and five more years for destruction of evidence.
The court also imposed a penalty of Rs 50 lakh each on Vikas and Vishal for the murder charges and Rs 4 lakh each for abduction and destruction of evidence charges.
A special bench of justices Gita Mittal and J R Midha rejected the plea moved by Nitish’s mother Neelam Katara and Delhi Police, who sought the death penalty for the three convicts in the murder case.
Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev Pehelwan are serving life terms for abducting and killing Nitish, a business executive and son of a railway officer, on the night of February 16-17, 2002 as they were against Nitish’s relationship with Bharti, Vikas’s sister.
The court also increased Sukhdev’s jail term to 25 years, stating that all three of them will undergo rigorous imprisonment without any remission, except for the additional five years in jail awarded to Vikas and Vishal.
“In view of the above discussion, we modify and enhance the sentence imposed by the judgments dated 30th May, 2008 upon the defendants Vikas Yadav, Vishal Yadav and 12th July, 2011 upon Sukhdev Yadav,” the court said.
For the punishment under murder charges, the court said Vikas and Vishal will serve life imprisonment without consideration for remission. “Life imprisonment, which shall be 25 years of actual imprisonment without consideration of remission, and fine of Rs 50 lakh each,” it said.
The court has also awarded 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for abduction. It said that the sentences for murder and abduction will run concurrently. “The sentence under Section 201/34 IPC (destruction of evidence) shall run consecutively to the other sentences,” the court said.
In its 700-page judgment, the court said that the time spent by Vikas in hospital — October 10, 2011 to November 4, 2011 — shall not be counted as a period he spent in jail. It has also directed the Centre and the state government to conduct an inquiry into the convicts’ visits to the hospital during their stay in jail.