Case Review: Nitish Katara Murder Case

Ridhima Mohanty,

Intern, Legal Angles Patna



NAME OF THE CASE: NITESH KATAR VS STATE OF U.P.

POPULAR NAME: NITESH KATAR MURDER CASE

BASIC FACTS:

In the year 1998, NitishKatar joined IMT Gaziabad, in order to pursue an MBA.Over there he got into friendship with Gaurav Gupta, Bharat Diwakar and Bharti Yadav.Bharti yadav was the daughter of D.P Yadav who was the Member of Parliament and industrialist.The course was finished in the year of 2000.He was recruited by the reliance general insurance in Delhi itself, whereas his father was ill.Even Bharti lived in Delhi.With the passage of time the friendship of both of them turned to love affair.Basically, love affair was known by Bharti’s family members and relatives including her sister Bhawana Yadav, Vikas Yadav and Vishal Yadav.In this case the prosecutors were opposed to this relationship and was not acceptable by VikasansVishal.This abhorrence was the motive of murder of NitishKatar. An alliance was fixed of Shivani Kaur (a childhood friend of Bharti) with one Amit Arora, they got engaged on 4thJune 2001 and marriage was fixed on 16th Feb 2002.Shivani Kaur invited Bharti’s family as well as family of Nitish Katar. Where Nitish Katar came with his friends were in the sangeet ceremony both danced together and got pictures captured during the time of marriage.Between midnight 12:30.Nitishkatar was spotted with the Vishal Yadav, Vikas Yadav and Sukhdev Yadav in a Tata safari with the Punjab registration No. PB-07H-0085 outside the venue.After that he wasn’t found alive.Abrutally burnt dead body was found lying on the shikhapur road near Kurja, on 17th February, 2002, morning.After the conduct of post-mortem the corpse on the 18th February, on which it was opined that the cause of the death was coma as a result to ante-mortem. Head injury with post-mortem burn.The 7cm fracture above the left eyebrow of the dead body was observed by the doctor.The body was identified by his mother smtNilamKatar.

SECTIONS/ARTICLES/ACTS AND STATUES INVOLVED:

Section 302/364/201 read with section 34IPC.

302. Punishment for murder.—whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or 1[imprisonment for life], and shall also be liable to fine

364. Kidnapping or abducting in order to murder.

201. Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender.

34. Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.

NAME OF THE ADVOCATE:Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran

NAME OF THE JUDGE: The bench was headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

QUESTION OF LAW INVOLVED:

The issues which were framed by Delhi High Court are:-

1. Whether the presumption in accordance with law that a person is presumed innocent till proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt as well as the constitutional right to silence of an accused person entitles an accused person to actively engage in obstructing trial; subverting due process; suborning witnesses and leading false evidence?

2. The question which has to be answered is as to whether an accused person can orchestrate non-existent or technical errors during trial and then assert a mistrial entitling him to an acquittal or a retrial?

NOTABLE ARGUMENTS:

While undergoing through the first issue, it was observed by the court that. In the case, Inder Singh & Anr v. state(Delhi administration) the CJ wrote- credibility of testimony, oral and circumstantial, depends considerably on a judicial evaluation of the totality, not isolated scrutiny.

Proof beyond reasonable doubt is a guideline, not a fetish and guilty man cannot get away with it because truth suffers some infirmity when projected through human processes. Judicial quest were perfect proof often accounts for police presentation of fool-proof concotions.

It is trite that accused persons are entitled to get benefit of doubt only when the prosecution fails to prove its case.

The proof beyond reasonable doubt is a guiding factor in the present case has to be scrutinized on these principles.

Further the Court observed that motive is an important link in a case resting on circumstantial evidence. Vikas Yadav is the brother of Bharti Yadav and Bhawna Yadav and they are the children of Shri D.P. Yadav. Vishal Yadav is their first cousin (son of Shri D.P. Yadav’s sister). Sukhdev. Pehalwan was employed at their liquor business in Bulandshahr. It was proved in the Trial Court that NitishKatar and Bharti were involved in an intimate romantic relationship and that they were contemplating a lifelong relationship, even culminating in marriage. The relationship between Bharti and NitishKatar was disapproved by Vikas Yadav and Vishal Yadav.

Hon’ble High Court held that “the broad features of the case established by the prosecution, the testimony of the witnesses, the documentary evidence proved on record, the convincing array of facts which are indisputable as well as the conduct of the appellants, unerringly converge to only one conclusion that may be reasonably drawn, namely that the appellants (Vikas Yadav, Vishal Yadav and Sukhdev) are guilty. It therefore has to be held that the appellants shared a common intention to abduct the deceased NitishKatar and commit his murder as well as to set aflame his dead body to cause disappearance of the evidence in order to screen themselves of the legal punishment of the said offences attached to the heinous crimes.”

While considering the sad state of affairs in the present Indian society the High Court has observed that “The instant case also manifests the restrictions within which many women in this country grow and survive in the Indian society. It epitomizes the limitations in choosing a life partner, even in the case of an educated, articulate young lady from a well-placed family in the National Capital Region.” On April 2, 2014, Delhi High Court upheld the Trial Court verdict of life imprisonment to the accused. On Feb 6 2015, Delhi High Court on re-appeal on Death Sentence, extended sentence as to 25 years in jail without remission and their aide to 20 years, with an additional five years each for destruction of evidence.

DECISION OF THE COURT:

Recently, on October 3, 2016, the Supreme Court while upholding the judgment of Delhi High Court said that those sentences would run concurrently and not one after the other as the High Court had ordered, effectively reducing the prison terms for each of them by five years. So since the Yadavs, had been in jail for the last 14 years, they will be remain there till 2027.

Justice J.S. Khehar observed that with the help of a hired killer, Sukhdev Pehalwan, the duo “ took him (NitishKatar) home, then god knows where, killed him and dumped his body”. The murder was considered an honour killing, but a Supreme Court bench led by Justice J.S. Khehar said the crime can neither be classified as an honour killing nor be in the category of the rarest of rare crime warranting death penalty. “It may be a planned murder but it certainly is not heinous. And every murder is planned. Tell us which murder is not planned? If it is not planned, strictly speaking it will not be murder. If it is in heat of the moment, it will come under exception clause of Section 300 (murder)."

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