“Except for this crime, Sharma was an asset to nation”: Judge
NEW DELHI: Even as the court awarded life imprisonment to all four convicts in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case on Monday taking into account their past records and other mitigating circumstances, the defence seemed all geared up to challenge the conviction in the Delhi High Court.
In his order on sentence, Additional Sessions Judge Rajendra Kumar Shastri said R.K. Sharma, the suspended IPS officer for whom the prosecution had demanded death penalty, was not a danger to society. “Except for the crime in question (Shivani Bhatnagar murder case), R.K. Sharma was an asset to this nation,” wrote the Judge.
The order cited the defence submission that Sharma had served with the United Nations, Interpol, Prime Minister’s Office and Central Bureau of Investigation and had earned appreciation during his tenure everywhere.
“Even as per prosecution, convict R.K. Sharma thought of eliminating the victim, enraged by the latter’s threat to expose him…both of them despite being already married to persons other than themselves, had developed an intimacy which was not acceptable to our society,” said the Judge in his order.
In the case of Pradeep, for whom too the prosecution had sought death penalty, the court said he was a “distracted youth”: “He was an unemployed and poor person... allured by the promise of restoration of his job in Haryana Urban Development Authority or by cash (though not proved on file).”
The court said the fact that he was convicted in a cheating case did not make him a danger to society.
Meanwhile, Pradeep, who spent nearly an hour with his family after the Judge had handed down the sentence, gave away little by way of emotions or signs of remorse. Laughing and calling out to journalists from the court lock-up, he said it (conviction) all happened due to them (the media).
Pradeep’s lawyer D.B. Goswami said his client would approach the High Court soon to challenge the conviction. “The court has agreed with our submission that it was not a ‘rarest of the rare’ case. We agree by the sentence awarded because life sentence in a murder case is the minimum. But there are several grounds on which the conviction can be challenged,” he said.
Other convicts will also be approaching the High Court within the stipulated 60 days.
Prosecution counsel Manisha Sharma said the prosecution had done its job and satisfied the court about the involvement of the convicts. “The defence has every right to approach the High Court and we will take it up when they do so,” she said.