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Death penalty for Sushil Sharma in ‘tandoor’ case
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 7
Former Delhi Youth Congress president Sushil Sharma was today sentenced to death by a city Sessions Court for the brutal murder of his wife Naina Sahni eight years ago and then trying to destroy the body by burning it in a “tandoor’’ of a restaurant run by him.

Holding that the murder committed by Sharma fell in the “rarest of the rare” category as defined by the Supreme Court, Additional Sessions Judge G.P Thareja, who had found him guilty of the crime on Monday, said he should be “hanged by the neck till dead.”

The capital punishment, however, has to be confirmed by the High Court, as is the provision under the law. Mr Thareja ordered that the file relating to the case be sent to the Delhi High Court for confirmation of the death sentence.

Sharma, escorted by a posse of armed policemen, looked tense and a bit lost after the verdict was pronounced by the judge in a jam packed court room.

The police had made elaborate security arrangements in and around the Tis Hazari court complex after Wednesday’s incidents, when the hearing had to be adjourned due to disturbance caused by members of the women’s wing of the local BJP unit.

When a battery of mediapersons tried to have his reaction while he was being escorted out of the court room, Sharma maintained a stoic silence and just folded his hands in a gesture that he should be excused.

However, his lawyer P.K Dham, speaking on his behalf, said “I respect the verdict... and will not go for an appeal against it.”

The court also sentenced Sharma’s accomplice Keshav Kumar to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment. He was manager of Sharma’s open air ‘Bagia’ restaurant in ITDC’s hotel Ashok Yatri Nivas and was found guilty of helping him in burning the body in the tandoor after Sharma had shot dead Naina, a city Congress worker, on July 2, 1995.

Sharma was also sentenced to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment for the offence of hatching a criminal conspiracy and destruction of the evidence.

A fine of Rs 10,000 each was slapped on both the convicts for these offences. However, as per the verdict on failing to pay the fine the convicts would have to undergo a further sentence of 18 months.

Keshav, was acquitted of the murder charges by the court. Keshav’s counsel had sought the release of his client from the jail during the argument on point of sentence contending that he had already spent more than eight years in judicial custody, while the punishment for the offence, he was found guilty of, was only seven years. He said since the death sentence was subject to confirmation by the High Court, referring of the case to it was sufficient.

As the High Court would have a complete review of the judgement and the convict would have full opportunity to place his viewpoint before it, Mr Dham, who was provided to Sharma at the expense of the State under the legal aid scheme, said.

Reacting to the sentence, Keshav said he would seek compensation for the extra period spent in prison.

The court had acquitted three co-accused - Jai Prakash Pehalwan, Rishi Raj Rathi and Ram Prakash Sachdeva - who had been charged by the prosecution of harbouring Sharma after the murder.

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