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Scan on ‘caste’ in Katara case

New Delhi, April 2 (PTI): Delhi High Court today upheld the conviction of Uttar Pradesh politician D.P. Yadav’s son Vikas in the Nitish Katara murder case, saying it was an “honour killing” that stemmed from a “deeply entrenched belief” in the caste system.

The court also upheld the convictions of two others — Vikas’s cousin Vishal Yadav and Sukhdev Pehalwan. All three are serving life sentences for the February 2002 murder.

Nitish, a business executive and son of an IAS officer, was abducted from Ghaziabad near the Delhi border. His burnt body was found in a village in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, a few days later.

The court said Nitish was killed as the convicts did not approve of his affair with Bharti, D.P. Yadav’s daughter, since they were from different castes.

“The case of the prosecution squarely brings the murder of Nitish Katara within the meaning of the expression honour killing,” it said, describing the offence as a “class… by itself”.

“Its motivation stemming from a deeply entrenched belief in the caste system, it is completely unacceptable,” the bench added.

Justices Gita Mittal and J.R. Midha also observed that the “right to choose” a “life partner or whom you associate with” was a “fundamental right… an integral part of the right to life”, as they voiced concern over the “malaise” of honour killings.

The bench noted that while Bharti came from a well-placed, business-class family, with her father being an MP, Nitish’s father was in government service.

“The present case again brings to the fore a malaise which still afflicts Indian society that finds its roots in entrenched social structures based on religion, caste and economic standing,” it said.

According to the bench, Bharti, who was sent out of India to the UK, was also a victim. “…should not every woman, or girl, whose freedom to choose her partner is so taken away by any person, be treated as a victim of the crime of honour killing as well?” it asked.

The Supreme Court had in 2002 transferred the trial from Ghaziabad to a sessions court here following a plea that a fair trial was not possible in Uttar Pradesh as the accused belonged to an influential political family.

Today, the high court said it had found “no infirmity” in the judgments passed by the trial judges.