New Delhi: Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Delhi government's plea seeking death penalty for the killers of Nitish Katara.
The apex court, while passing the order, refused to accept the plea of victim's mother Neelam Katara as a 'rarest of rare' crime.
"What they (Yadavs) did cannot be condoned, but it (the offence) is not so heinous and abhorring that warrants death," a bench of justices JS Khehar and R Banumathi said.
Today's SC ruling helped Vikas and Vishal Yadav, serving 30 years jail term for brutally killing Nitish Katara in 2002, escape death penalty.
The bench, which had recently dismissed the special leave petitions of Vikas, Vishal and Sukhdev Pehalwan against the Delhi High Court verdict in the case, did not agree with the submission of senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Neelam Katara, that the two convicts deserved death penalty.
"I don't see it as honour killing," the bench observed at the outset when Salve opened arguments on the plea seeking enhancement of the sentence, saying that the high court had held it as the honour killing.
"I am asking for death penalty," the senior lawyer said, adding that the convicts, who were educated and hailed from "good families", had killed the youth in pre-meditated and brutal manner and mutilated the body before burning it.
The court said that the convicts' sister Bharti Yadav had even gone to the victim's house to deliver the invitation card of her sister's wedding and it cannot be said that the family of the convicts did not approve the relationship.
Perhaps, the "trigger" was the moment when the convicts saw her dancing with Nitish and took him away and killed him, the court said, adding that every murder is brutal but it is difficult to say it is "abhorring".
"It was just a murder. That is it... They (convicts) have also suffered the sentence for 16 years," it said, adding that the manner of disposal of the body fell under the IPC provision dealing with destruction of evidence.
Vikas (39), Vishal (37) and Sukhdev (40) are serving life term awarded by the lower court in May 2008 for abducting and killing Katara, a business executive and the son of a railway officer, on the night of February 16-17, 2002, as they opposed the victim's affair with Bharti, daughter of Uttar Pradesh politician DP Yadav.
With PTI inputs