Nitish Katara Case: Vikas and Vishal Yadav to undergo imprisonment of 25 years; Sukhdev faces 20 years in prison

Supreme Court: In the infamous Nitish Katara Murder case, the Bench of Dipak Misra and C. Nagappan, JJ  upheld the order of the Delhi High Court imposing a punishment of imprisonment of 25 and 20 years for the offence under Section 302 IPC on Vikas and Vishal Yadav and Sukhdev Yadav, respectively, and 5 years for offence under Section 201 IPC, however, the High Court’s stipulation that both the sentences would run consecutively was modified and it was directed that both the sentences would run concurrently.

It was argued by the appellant that the fixed term imposed by the High Court curtails the power of remission after fourteen years as envisaged under Section 433-A CrPC. The High Court had not directed that the sentence under Section 201/34 IPC shall run first and, thereafter, the fixed term sentence will commence. State had contended that the Court should modify the sentence and direct that the appellants shall suffer rigorous imprisonment for the offence punishable under Section 201/34 IPC and, thereafter, suffer the fixed term sentences. The Court, however, refused to do so and instead directed that the sentence imposed for the offence punishable under Section 201/34 IPC shall run concurrently with the sentence imposed for other offences by the High Court.

It was also contended that there was a non-application of mind by the High Court while imposing the sentence, for two accused persons have been sentenced for twenty-five years and Sukhdev, the other appellant, has been sentenced to twenty years. The Court, however, rejected this contention and said that the High Court, while dealing with Vikas Yadav and Vishal Yadav had opined that they had misused the process of law while in jail and in their conduct there is no sign of any kind of remorse or regret. As far as the Sukhdev is concerned, the High Court had taken his conduct in jail which had been chastened and punishment was imposed once. The High Court had taken note of the fact that Sukhdev was the employee of the father of Vikas Yadav and he is a married man with five children and on account of his incarceration, his family is in dire stress. On the basis of these facts and circumstances, the High Court had drawn a distinction and imposed slightly lesser sentence in respect of Sukhdev and hence, the imposition of fixed term sentence on the appellants by the High Court cannot be found fault with.

In the present case, deceased was murdered by the appellants for his involvement with their sister. The Court said 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 that has blinded the thought of “choice available” to a sister – a representative of women as a class. The deceased was burnt to such a point that his own mother could only suggest the identification from the small size of one unburnt palm with fingers of the hand that the body appeared to be that of her deceased son. The identification had to be confirmed by DNA testing. It is demonstrable about the criminal proclivity of the accused persons, for they have neither the respect for human life nor did they have any concern for the dignity of a dead person.

Terming the offence to be one of ‘honour killing’, the Court said that one may feel “My honour is my life” but that does not mean sustaining one’s honour at the cost of another. Neither the family members nor the members of the collective have 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 honor or class honor 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.

Vikas Yadav was also prosecuted in “Jesica Lal murder case” and he committed the crime in the present case while he was out on bail. [Vikas Yadav v. State of U.P.2016 SCC OnLine SC 1088 , decided on 03.10.2016]

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