The Delhi High Court on Monday upheld the death penalty awarded to Sushil Sharma, former Youth Congress leader, in the sensational Naina Sahani murder case.
Terming the offence as 'an act of extreme depravity,' a Division Bench comprising Justice R S Sodhi and Justice P K Bhasin dismissed Sharma's appeal and allowed the death reference petition against him, which was filed in 2003.
The bench rejected his contention that he was not given fair trial and that the offence was committed at the spur of the moment while holding that the offence fell on the category of rarest of rare, warranting death sentence.
"The offence was not committed on a spur of the moment as alleged by him (Sharma) but it was an act of butchery, which leaves no room for compassion," the bench said.
"He had no value for human life and it would be a mockery of justice if his appeal is allowed," the bench said, adding, "The offence did fall under the rarest of rare category."
Pronouncing the verdict in a jam-packed courtroom, the bench said, "This offence has shaken the conscience of the society including this court and the post-offence conduct, showing no remorse for the offence, coupled with no regard for the dead body, warrants the death penalty."
The Court did not agree with Sharma's contention that over-coverage by the media prejudiced the trial court verdict and instead lauded media for highlighting the offence and praised the manner in which the investigation of the case was done by the Delhi Police.
"In these situations, media cannot be blamed. Rather, the investigative agencies probing the matter acted in much better and fair manner," the bench observed.
The trial court on November 7, 2003 had sentenced Sharma to death for killing his wife Naina Sahani at their residence in Gole Market area in central Delhi and burning her body in a tandoor (oven) of a resturant at a then ITDC-owned five-star hotel.
Sharma's employee Keshav Kumar was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment for causing disappearance of evidence by the trial court. He was released from jail as he had already served the sentence term during the pendency of trial.
Sahani, also a Congress worker, was murdered on the intervening night of July 2-3, 1995.