Nitish Katara murder: SC to hear on Oct 3 convict Vikas Yadav’s plea on remission issue

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would hear on October 3 a plea by Vikas Yadav, who is serving a 25-year jail term in the sensational 2002 Nitish Katara murder case, raising the issue of denial of remission benefit to him.

On October 3, 2016, the apex court gave jail term without any benefit of remission to Vikas Yadav, son of controversial Uttar Pradesh politician D P Yadav, and his cousin Vishal Yadav for their role in the kidnapping and killing of business executive Katara. The two were against Katara’s alleged affair with Bharti Yadav, sister of Vikas, as they belonged to different castes.

Another co-convict Sukhdev Pehalwan was also handed down a 20-year jail term in the case that too without any remission benefit.

In his plea filed in the top court, Vikas Yadav has sought a direction that the benefit of remission is part of the right to personal liberty protected under Article 21 of the Constitution and cannot be restricted even by a judicial pronouncement of the courts.

As the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday before a bench comprising justices Aniruddha Bose and Sanjay Kumar, senior advocate Aparajita Singh and advocate Durga Dutt, who were representing Nitish Katara’s mother Nilam Katara, opposed the plea and said it should be dismissed.

The petitioner’s counsel told the bench that Vikas Yadav is in jail for 22 years without any remission.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, also sought dismissal of the plea. “Your lordships time can’t be abused like this,” Bhati said.

The plea has also sought a direction that no criminal court, including the high court or even the apex court, can pass a sentence that is not provided in the penal code and fix the minimum sentence of 25 years in a case of life imprisonment before grant of remission.

The plea has urged the apex court to hold that Vikas Yadav is entitled to the benefit of suspension, remission or commutation of the sentence imposed upon him which may be granted by the appropriate government and consequently, direct the officials concerned to consider the entitlement of such reliefs to him.

Vikas Yadav has said in his plea that it raises a “very important and substantial question of law” which directly relates to Articles 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) and 246 (subject matter of laws made by parliament and by the legislatures of states) of the Constitution.

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Referring to a 2015 verdict of the apex court, the plea said it had the effect of depriving the petitioner from being considered for remission for 25 years, that is, 11 additional years in terms of section 433A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Section 433A of the CrPC deals with restrictions on powers of remission or commutation in certain cases.

“Despite being a convict, the petitioner is entitled to his fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, as has been held by this court in a catena of judgments,” the plea said.

Earlier, the Delhi High Court, while upholding the life imprisonment awarded to Vikas and Vishal Yadav by the trial court, had specified a 30-year sentence, without any remission, to both of them.

It had awarded a 25-year jail term to the third convict Pehalwan.

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