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Curtains come down on tandoor case

Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi | November 04, 2003 01:39 IST

When Additional Sessions Judge G P Thareja on Monday afternoon convicted former Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma of murdering his wife Naina Sahni on July 2, 1995, he brought the curtains down on the sensational tandoor murder case.

In view of the gruesome nature of the incident and the involvement of a politician, hordes of mediapersons had turned up at the Tis Hazari court in the morning to hear the verdict.

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Even as everyone was waiting for the verdict, a group of about 50 protesters entered the court premises with a tandoor and demanded death penalty for Sharma.

The verdict was to be announced at 1430 IST. A battery of policemen brought the accused -- Sharma and Keshav Kumar. The courtroom was so packed with lawyers and journalists that it was difficult to even move one's head.

At the appointed time, Thareja entered the room with his hands folded and said the verdict would be announced an hour later.

The crowd was restless as there was only one working fan in the entire room while the windows were shut. But everyone stayed put because it would have been very difficult to get back in if they left.

The wait ended at around 1545 IST.

But there was another delay as the police had taken the accused outside. "The accused has the right to hear the judgment. I will not be able to pronounce the judgment unless they are here," said Thareja.

After considerable effort, the policemen managed to bring the accused before the judge.

The judge took out two pages from the 254-page judgment and read: "Charges 302 under IPC against accused Sushil for causing murder of Naina Sahni is proved beyond doubt. The accused Sushil Sharma is held guilty and convicted."

Sharma silently put his head down.

To Kumar's relief, the judge acquitted him of the murder charge. However, both were convicted for destroying Sahni's body.

As soon as the verdict was announced, journalists rushed towards the duo even as the police took them out of the court.

Three other accused -- Jai Prakash Pehalwan, Rishi Raj Rathi and Ram Prakash Sachdeva -- were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Thareja will announce the quantum of sentence on November 5 after hearing arguments from both sides.

Sharma may be given life imprisonment, or worse, the capital punishment. He may also get an additional seven years for destroying the body. Both have spent eight years in judicial custody.

Sahni's parents -- Harbhajan Singh and Jaswant Kaur -- were absent. They did not attend court during the entire trial. They had consistently refused to talk to journalists who had gone to their West Patel Nagar residence.

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