New Delhi: Vikas Yadav, one of the three convicts in the 2002 Nitish Katara murder case on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that the trial in the matter was not "fair" as crucial questions put to key witness Ajay Katara were disallowed by the lower court.

"Trial judge ordered that you (accused) cannot ask questions about the vision or eyesight of a key witness (Ajay Katara), who allegedly had a chance meeting with the accused and Nitish Katara on that night.

"This has not been a fair trial as the witness, who lives at Shahdara in Delhi, visits Ghaziabad 30 to 40 km away around 12.20 to 12.30 am on February 16-17, 2002 and had a chance meeting with the accused and the victim and the accused, during the trial, were not allowed to ask questions about his vision. Moreover, he (Katara) deposes in the trial court with his goggles on," U R Lalit, appearing for Vikas, told a bench headed by Justice Gita Mittal.

The trial court, in its judgement on May 28, 2008, had relied on various circumstantial evidence including the testimony of key witness Katara that he had seen Nitish alive last in the company of Vikas, Vishal Yadav and Sukhdev Pehalwan in a Tata Safari on that night near Hapur Chungi.

The statement was relied upon by the trial judge as the "last seen evidence" to link the offence with the accused.

In a bid to discredit the crucial testimony, Lalit said "the questions about the vision, visibility as the encounter of the witness with the accused and the victim was a chance encounter and was also for a brief period were crucial."

The witness, who watches news channels and reads news papers, records his statement with the police much after the incident, he said.
Advancing final arguments in the case, Lalit said Ajay Katara cannot be believed as his responses to the queries were not genuine and the court should take note of them.

"Then, there are other witness also in the case, who does not remember the phone number of her husband," Justice Mittal responded, adding that this case has plenty of such witnesses.

The advancing of final arguments in the case remained inconclusive and would continue on Thursday.

Earlier, Lalit had argued that there was no evidence to show that Vikas, son of controversial UP politician D P Yadav, was against the alleged relationship between his sister Bhart Yadav and the victim.

"There is not even single concrete evidence, which has come on record, that I (Vikas) have shown my resentment to the alleged relationship in any manner," Lalit had told the bench, which also comprised Justice J R Midha.

Referring to the testimony of Bharti Yadav, the counsel had said the prosecution had failed to establish the motive which prompted the convict to kill the Nitish Katara.

The prosecution had said Katara, a business executive, was abducted from a marriage party of his friend at Ghaziabad on the intervening night of February 16-17, 2002, and was later killed for his alleged intimacy with Bharti.

Vikas, his cousin Vishal and Sukhdev Pehalwan are serving life term for killing Katara.

The convicts had moved the high court seeking reversal of the trial court's findings. Police and Neelam Katara have filed appeals for award of death penalty, saying the offence was of the "rarest of rare" category.

(Agencies)