New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) The killer of Nitish Katara – Vikas Yadav – will undergo a jail term of 25 years as the Supreme Court on Monday held that the courts have the power to impose a fixed term sentence without remission.
Sukhdev Pahalwan, the accomplice in the crime, too would undergo the sentence of 20 years in jail without remission.
Upholding the 2014 Delhi High Court’s sentences, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice C. Nagappan said: “We reiterate that the imposition of fixed terms sentence is justified.”
Refusing to interfere with high court order imposing a fine of Rs 54 lakh on Vikas Yadav, the court said: “The concept of victim compensation cannot be marginalized. Adequate compensation is required to be granted. The High Court has considered all the aspects and enhanced the fine, determined the compensation and prescribed the default clause.”
However, in partial relief the court said that five years term under Section 201 of the Indian Penal Code for destruction of evidence would run concurrently and not consecutively as was directed by the high court, which said Vikas Yadav would undergo five year sentence only after undergoing 25 year sentence.
Noting the high court finding that it was a case of “honour killing”, the apex court said that “it is vivid that crime was committed in a planned and cold-blooded manner with the motive that has emanated due to feeling of some kind of uncalled for and unwarranted superiority based on caste feeling that has blinded the thought of ‘choice available’ to a sister – a representative of women as a class”.
The bench said that the sentence has highlighted the factum of “honour killing”, as that was the “seminal ground for imposing the fixed term sentence..”
“…neither the family members nor the members of the collective has any right to assault the boy chosen by the girl. Her individual choice is her self-respect and creating dent in it is destroying her honour. And to impose so called brotherly or fatherly honour or class honour by eliminating her choice is a crime of extreme brutality, more so, when it is done under a guise. It is a vice, condemnable and deplorable perception of ‘honour’, comparable to medieval obsessive assertions,” the court said.
Katara was murdered in February 2002 as his relationship with Bharti Yadav was not liked by her brother. Bharti and Vikas are children of criminal-turned-politician D.P. Yadav.
Saying that though both Vikas and Vishal Yadav were “highly educated in good educational institutions”, the court said that they “had not cultivated the ability to abandon the deprecable feelings and attitude for centuries….
“One may feel ‘My honour is my life’ but that does not mean sustaining one’s honour at the cost of another. Freedom, independence, constitutional identity, individual choice and thought of a woman, be a wife or sister or daughter or mother, cannot be allowed to be curtailed definitely not by application of physical force or threat or mental cruelty in the name of his self-assumed honour.”
The Supreme Court in August 2015 upheld the convictions of the Yadavs and Pahalwan, and said it would later examine the question of quantum of sentence as it was contended that court could not award fixed term punishment of 25 years.
All the three were convicted by the trial court in May 30, 2008 and were sentenced to life imprisonment. However, the Delhi High Court, while upholding the conviction, had in April 2014, enhanced the sentence to 25 years with no remission and heavy fine.
Vikas Yadav had moved the Supreme Court challenging their conviction and special sentence.