M A I N   N E W S

Sushil Sharma convicted
Sentence in ‘tandoor’ case tomorrow
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 3
Eight years after the murder of his wife Naina Sahani, a city court today held Delhi Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma and his accomplice Keshav Kumar guilty of murder and destroying of evidence.

Holding Sharma and Keshav, guilty under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, Additional Sessions Judge G.P. Thareja acquitted co-accused Jai Prakash Pehalwan, Rishi Raj and Ram Prakash Sachdeva of the charges of sheltering Sharma after killing 26-year-old Naina, also a Congress worker, on July 2, 1995.

Mr Thareja would pronounce the sentence on Wednesday after hearing the arguments of the prosecution and their counsel on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to them.

The court found Sharma guilty under Section 302 (murder), Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 201 (destroying evidence) and Keshav guilty of abetting in the conspiracy and destruction of evidence. He was acquitted of murder charge by the judge, holding that the prosecution could not establish it beyond doubt.

“The murder charge under Section 302 against Sushil Sharma for causing the death of Naina Sahani is proved beyond doubt,” Mr Thareja said in his 254-page judgement. The court had examined 87 of the 100 witnesses cited by the prosecution.

The prosecution had alleged that Sharma had killed Naina because he suspected that she had extra-marital relations with city Congress worker Matloob Karim.

On the evening of July 2, 1995, when Sharma reached his flat in the Gole Market area, he found Naina consuming liquor and talking on phone with someone. Suspecting that she was talking to Karim, Sharma got enraged and shot her with his licenced revolver thrice. She received bullet injuries in the head and the neck.

Sharma then took the body in his car to Bagia Restaurant in Ashoka Yatri Niwas, close to Parliament House, which was being run by him on contract with the India Tourism Development Corporation. He then asked his manager Keshav Kumar to destroy it in the ‘tandoor’.

The smoke and flames from the ‘tandoor’ at the open-air restaurant caught the attention of a woman, who informed beat constable Abdul Nazir, who caught Keshav red-handed.

The court also found senior IAS officer D.K. Rao, then posted at Gujarat Bhavan here, prima facie guilty of harbouring Sharma after the crime and directed the Delhi Chief Metropolitan Magistrate to prosecute him separately for the alleged offence.

Mr Thareja also directed the Gujarat Government to take suitable action against the other employees of Gujarat Bhavan, who had allegedly helped Sharma in hiding there and not reporting the matter to the police even when the case was widely reported in the media.

The prosecution had accused Rao of providing shelter to Sharma on the night of July 2 at Gujarat Bhavan before the accused fled to Jaipur. He then went to Mumbai and got anticipatory bail from a Chennai court.

He finally surrendered before a special investigating team of the Delhi police at Bangalore on July 10, which caused a big embarrassment to the Congress.

Since the body of Sahani was chopped into pieces before being burnt, it was a challenging task for the crime branch to establish that it was of the victim. The DNA test conducted in Hyderabad established that the body was of Naina.

The police had recovered the revolver and the blood-stained clothes of the victim and the forensic science laboratory had confirmed the prosecution’s theory.


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