New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday fixed May 16 for hearing arguments on quantum of sentence to be awarded to controversial UP politician DP Yadav`s son Vikas and two others in the 2002 Nitish Katara murder case.
A bench comprising justices Gita Mittal and JR Midha allowed the plea for adjournment on the ground that the public prosecutor was in personal difficulty and would not be able to argue the case. The court then fixed May 16 as next date.
Meanwhile, P K Dey, the counsel for Neelam Katara, mother of the deceased, and Sumeet Verma, appearing for Vikas Yadav, filed brief synopsis in support of their pleas on quantum of sentence.
Dey sought enhancement of sentence from life term to death penalty on various grounds including that the convicts have committed the honour killing, the "rarest of rare" crime and moreover, they can neither be reformed nor rehabilitated as they are habitual offenders.
On the other hand, Verma cited case laws, including a recent HC verdict on honour killing in which he represented five death row convicts and out of them, three were awarded life term and two were acquitted.
If there are any possibility of reformation of convicts then death penalty cannot be awarded, he said.
Verma also sought early disposal of petitions of Katara and the state on enhancement of sentence saying the convicts are losing precious time for filing appeals in the Supreme Court against the verdict due to the pendency of these pleas.
Neelam Katara, in her written pleas, has said the offence has been held as "honour killing" and hence, deterrent punishment was needed to deter prospective accused as such offences are rising in the society.
Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev Pehalwan are serving life term for abducting and killing Nitish Katara, a business executive and son of an IAS officer, on the intervening night of February 16-17, 2002. They did not approve the victim`s affair with Bharti.
The High Court, on April 2, had upheld the verdict of lower court in the case by describing the offence as "honour killing" stemming from a "deeply entrenched belief" in caste system.
Upholding the conviction of three accused in the case, the court held the offence as honour killing.
Nitish Katara was abducted and killed by Vikas, his cousin Vishal Yadav and co-convict Sukhdev Pehalwan as they did not approve victim`s affair with Bharti, daughter of D P Yadav, as they belong to different castes, the court had said.
"The case of the prosecution squarely brings the murder of the Nitish Katara within the meaning of the expression honour killing.
"`Honour killing` is a class of offences by itself. Its motivation stemming from a deeply entrenched belief in the caste system, it is completely unacceptable," the bench had said in its 1,193-page verdict.
The high court had dismissed the appeals of convicts and kept pending two separate pleas of state and Neelam Katara seeking award of death penalty to them.