Killing of wife a brutal offence but he is not a confirmed criminal, says Supreme Court

Holding that the murder committed by Sushil Sharma, former Delhi Youth Congress (I) president, of his wife was the outcome of strained personal relationship and not an offence against society, the Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentence awarded to him to life imprisonment for the rest of his life.

“The appellant has no criminal antecedents. He is not a confirmed criminal and no evidence is led by the State to indicate that he is likely to revert to such crimes in future. It is, therefore, not possible in the facts of the case to say there is no chance of the appellant being reformed and rehabilitated,” said a Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Desai and Ranjan Gogoi, which partly allowed his appeal.

According to the prosecution, he caused the death of Naina Sahni, who was general secretary of the Delhi Youth Congress (I) Girls Wing, on the night of July 2, 1995, and threw the body into the tandoor of a restaurant in the capital.

Mitigating circumstances

Writing the judgment, Justice Desai said: “Though it may not be strictly relevant, we may mention that the appellant is the only son of his parents, who are old and infirm. As of today, he has spent more than 10 years in death cell. Undoubtedly, the offence is brutal but brutality alone would not justify the death sentence in this case. The above mitigating circumstances persuade us to commute the death sentence,” awarded by the trial court and confirmed by the Delhi High Court.

The Bench said: “Considering the social status of the deceased, it would be difficult to come to the conclusion that the appellant was in a dominant position qua her. The appellant was deeply in love with the deceased. The evidence on record shows that he suspected her fidelity and the murder was the result of this possessiveness.”

The Bench held that the prosecution had successfully proved beyond reasonable doubt that Sharma alone had committed the murder. It made clear that life sentence “is for the whole of remaining life of the appellant subject to remission granted by the appropriate government under Section 432 of the Cr.PC which, in turn, is subject to the procedural checks mentioned in the said provision and further substantive checks in Section 433-A.”

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