NEW DELHI: Former youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma, in jail for the last 20 years for the sensational murder of his wife Naina Sahni, was today released on parole by the Delhi High Court.
The court said till his plea seeking remission and premature release is decided by the competent authority he will remain out of jail. Justice Siddharth Mridul ordered his release observing that he has remained in jail for over 20 years and it is a matter of his right.
"Delhi Government states that decision has already been taken by Sentence Review Board and the same is pending for consideration and order before the competent authority. In view of the above, the only course of action is to request the competent authority to expedite the decision and render it finally within reasonable period of time. Order accordingly," the judge said.
Additional Standing Counsel for Delhi government has also informed the court that the decision has been taken and now the final order has to be passed by the Lieutenant Governor. The court, while releasing Sharma on parole, said that his counsel has invited its attention to the fact that the convict underwent sentence of over 20 years.
"The decision of the Supreme Court (in an earlier case) .... buttresses the submission made by Sharma's counsel. In view of the foregoing, the state is directed to release the petitioner on parole till pendency of his representation and decision before competent authority," it said. The judge also made clear that "no condition" is imposed on Sharma while he is on parole.
The case is popularly known as tandoor murder case as after killing the victim, her body was burnt in an oven of a hotel to destroy the evidence. Sharma had moved the court stating that he has already spent 20 years in jail and was entitled to premature release in accordance with guidelines of the Sentence Review Board.
In his plea, Sharma had sought directions to the LG and Delhi government to expeditiously consider his plea for premature release from jail. Sharma, who had moved the plea when he was out on parole on the ground of his mother's ailment, came back to jail on September 7 and with the high court order today, he will be released from jail shortly.
The Supreme Court had commuted to life imprisonment the death penalty awarded to Sharma by a trial court in 2003 and upheld by the Delhi High Court in 2007, saying the murder was the outcome of "strained personal relationship" and convict who spent "10 years in death cell" was "not a confirmed criminal". While reducing the sentence awarded to him, the apex court had said that "life sentence is for the whole of remaining life of Sharma subject to the remission granted by the appropriate government under the Code of Criminal Procedure."
Therefore, it is not possible in the facts of the case to say that there is no chance of the appellant being reformed and rehabilitated, the apex court had said. It had also said Sharma was not completely remorseless as he had wept when shown his wife's body.
Sharma was convicted of murdering his wife Naina whom he suspected of infidelity. He shot her with his licensed revolver on July 2, 1995, took her body to a restaurant, chopped it into pieces and tied to burn it in the restaurant's oven.