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Verdict in tandoor case put off

Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi | November 06, 2003 02:00 IST

Arguments on sentencing former Delhi Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma and Keshav Kumar in the Tandoor murder case were postponed by a day on Wednesday due to commotion inside and outside the Tis Hazari courtroom in Delhi.

The court had on Monday convicted Sharma for killing his wife Naina Sahni; Kumar was found guilty of helping Sharma destroy the evidence.

On Wednesday, when Additional Sessions Judge G P Thareja arrived at 1400 IST, the courtroom was packed with journalists, advocates and others. But Special Public Prosecutor A P Ahluwalia was not present and the hearing had to be put off by 45 minutes.

At 1445 IST, when Ahluwalia arrived, there was absolutely no place.

The judge requested people to give some space so that Ahluwalia could come and present his argument. Amidst a lot of noise, push and pull, it took about 15 minutes for Ahluwalia to come in front.

The judge then asked him about the demonstration outside the court, where about 50 activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party women's wing had gathered with placards, banners, flags and a tandoor demanding death penalty for Sharma.

Delhi BJP chief Madan Lal Khurana had participated in a similar protest at Jantar Mantar on Monday. In a press release on Wednesday, he said the Delhi Congress should be renamed 'Tandoori Congress'.

The judge asked Ahluwalia how the protest could take place without the police commissioner's permission.

"Can we announce the judgment without cool and calm environment?" Thareja asked.

"Tell him (commissioner) not to allow any protest till the judgment is pronounced."

Ahluwalia then started his arguments, demanding death penalty for Sharma.

Citing a Supreme Court ruling, Ahluwalia gave four reasons: He said Sharma had used his political clout and exploited the situation to kill his wife. Second, he had attacked a helpless lady; third, after firing three shots at her, he had burnt the body in a tandoor; and last, his conduct during the trial was not good.

Sharma had allegedly threatened a police constable who had found Sahni's body and a woman witness, Anaro.

Ahluwalia completed his arguments amidst frequent shouting from the public.

The judge became angry when a woman lawyer standing at the gate said something loudly.

Shortly afterwards, Thareja postponed the hearing. He also said the entry into the courtroom would be restricted. He allowed 50 lawyers and one person each from every media organisation for Thursday's hearing, and asked the Bar Council president for help in this regard.

He said: "The hearing is put on hold on account of noise from the gate of the court."

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