SC reserves verdict on Shradhananda's plea against death sentence

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New Delhi, Apr 30 (UNI) The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a petition filed by Swami Shradhananda alias Murli Manohar Mishra challenging his death sentence, handed down for burying his wife alive in 1991.

A bench comprising Justices B N Agarwal, G S Singhvi and Aftab Alam reserved the verdict after the arguments in the case were concluded.

The petitioner was sentenced to death by a trial court in Karnataka and his sentence was confirmed by the state High Court in 2006.

The body of his wife, Sakira, was exhumed after three years in 1994 when her daughter took up the case of her murder.

The deceased was the wife of an IFS officer and after coming to India she fell in love with Mishra and got married to him.

She was drugged by Mishra after getting some papers signed by her and when she became unconscious she was put in a box and was buried in the back of the courtyard of their house.

Earlier, the matter was referred to a three-Judge bench after a two-Judge bench delivered a split verdict. Justice S B Sinha commuted death sentence to life imprisonment while Justice Markandey Katju upheld the death sentence.

The Judges wanted to know whether they can put some conditions while commuting the death sentence into life imprisonment, such as the convict shall not be released before completing a particular sentence.

The Section 433 gives powers to the administration to consider the case of a life convict for remission of the sentence after completing 14 years of imprisonment.

The court wanted to know whether it can put a rider in an appropriate case for example that a particular convict serving life term shall not be released before completing 20 years of sentence.

The apex court is already reconsidering its judgement of 2001, in which while commuting death sentence to life imprisonment of a gangster belonging to Dawood Ibrahim gang, the court held that the convict shall not be released till his death.

The order has been challenged on the ground that such a condition runs counter to the provisions of the Section 433 A of CrPC which gives power to the jail administration to consider the case for remission of the sentence.

Counsel for the petitioner in the present case contended that the case does not fall in 'rarest of rare' category.

UNI SC KK RP HT1730

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