SC commutes Swami Shardanand's death sentence to life

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New Delhi, Jul 22 (UNI) The Supreme Court today commuted death sentence awarded to Swami Shardanand alias Murli Manohar Mishra by Karnataka High Court to life imprisonment but with a rider that the convict will remain in jail till his death.

Shardanand had buried alive Shakereh, wife of a former Indian Ambassasdor to Australia on April 28, 1991. The deceased, who had separated from her husband and had got married to Shardanand, was the daughter of Diwan of Mysore.

Karnataka High Court had sentenced Swami to death in May 2005.

The matter was referred to a three-judge bench following differences between the two judges, namely Justices S B Sinha and Markandey Katju. Justice Sinha had awarded him life while Justice Katju had upheld the capital punishment awarded to the Swami by the trial court which was confirmed by the High Court.

According to the prosecution Swami had administered some sedatives to the deceased and when she became unconscious, he buried her alive in the backyard of his house.

The case was reopned folowing efforts made by the daughter of the deceased, who suspected the involvement of Shardanand and later the dead body was exhumed from the backyard of the house at the instance of the accused.

A bench comprising Justices B N Agarwal, G S Singhvi and Aftab Alam while commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment, also ruled that the appellant will not be entitled to any remission of sentence under section 433 CrPc on completion of 14 years of imprisonment.

Meaning that the power of the administration to recommend release of a lifer on completion of 14 years on account of good conduct during his stay in jail or any other relevant circumstances shall not be applicable in the case of Swami Shardanand.

The victim was killed by the petitioner after he fraudulently obtained her signatures on papers transferring her entire property to him.

UNI SC SP PM1322

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