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Delhi's Sentence Review Board To Consider Release Of 42 Prisoners Including 3-High Profile Cases

ANANYA BHATNAGAR | 0
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| October 4 , 2018 , 13:03 IST

Delhi Government’s Sentence Review Board will on Thursday decide the fate of three high profile convicts namely Sushil Sharma, Manu Sharma and Santosh Sharma.

While Sushil Sharma was convicted of murdering his wife Naina Sahni in the case which came to be known as the tandoor murder case, Manu Sharma was convicted for the murder of Jessica Lall and Santosh Sharma was convicted for murdering and raping DU Student Priyadarshani Mattoo.

The three cases are among 49 such requests lined up for consideration of the panel chaired by Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain.

The other members of the panel are Delhi Director General (prisons) Ajay Kashyap, principal secretary (Home) Manoj Parida, principal secretary (law) Anoop K Mehendiratta, Joint Commissioner of Police (crime) Joy Tirkey, chief probation officer and a district judge.

Priyadarshani Mattoo Murder Case (Santosh Sharma’s Conviction)

Priyadarshini Mattoo was a 23-year old law student, living in Delhi. She was found raped and murdered at her New Delhi residence on January 23, 1996. The prime accused in this case was Santosh Kumar Singh, Mattoo’s senior in her college.

Singh had allegedly been harassing and stalking Mattoo, both “in person and over the phone” for about two years prior to killing her in the most gruesome way. It is also said that Mattoo had filed a police complaint against Singh and was provided with a personal security officer after Mattoo stated in her complaint that Singh was stalking her for quite some days. However, this did not have any desired effect as Singh belonged to an influential family

On the morning of January 23, 1996, Santosh Singh was seen knocking on Mattoo’s house, in the Vasant Kunj area of New Delhi. Singh was let in by a domestic help of the house. He entered the house saying that he wanted a compromise in the legal complaints that Mattoo had charged against him. Subsequently, he raped her, strangled her with an electric wire and battered her head nearly14 times with a motorcycle helmet.

Naina Sahani Murder Case / Tandoor Case (Sushil Sharma’s Conviction)

According to the prosecution's case against Sharma, he murdered Sahni in her rented apartment, cut the body into pieces and stuffed the remains into the tandoor of Bagiya Restaurant in Hotel Ashok Yatri Niwas.

He killed his wife on the suspicion that she was having an extra-marital affair with her former classmate, a fellow Congress worker. Sharma's accomplice Keshav Kumar, the restaurant manager at the time, was sentenced to seven years' rigorous imprisonment for criminal conspiracy.

Sharma had been in a live-in relationship with Naina for some time before the two got married, with him choosing to keep the wedding under wraps. The prosecution in the trial court had contended that there was some domestic violence following his suspicions about Naina.

A constable posted at Connaught Place and a Home Guard were patrolling along Ashoka Road when they heard a woman screaming about a fire in the hotel. At Ashok Yatri Niwas, the duo noticed smoke and flames leaping out of the 'Bagiya Bar-be-que'.

On entering the restaurant from the rear, they found the manager near the tandoor, placing wooden logs and small pieces of firewood into the burning fire, stoking it. The manager, Keshav, claimed he was a Congress worker burning old banners and posters but the foul odour was a giveaway, leading to his arrest. After the fire was doused, investigators found human remains on the tandoor, including a torso and burnt bones. A black polythene sheet nearby bore blood stains too.

On November 7, 2003, Sushil Sharma was sentenced to death and the restaurant manager, Keshav Kumar was given seven years rigorous imprisonment. On October 8, 2013, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Desai and Ranjan Gogoi, of the Supreme Court upheld Sharma's conviction. However, the court commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment because Sharma doesn't have a criminal antecedent and it is not a crime against society, but it is a crime committed by the accused due to a strained personal relationship with his wife.

Jessica Lal Murder Case (Manu Sharma’s Conviction)

Son of an influential politician, Manu Sharma shot model Jessica Lall after she refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant at Qutub Colonnade in South Delhi’s Mehrauli.

Sharma, the son of former Haryana Congress leader Venod Sharma, was handed life imprisonment in the case. In May 1999, Delhi Police had recovered Tata Safari belonging to Manu Sharma from Noida in Uttar Pradesh. He surrendered before a court in Chandigarh a few days after the recovery.

After a chargesheet was filed against the accused under various sections of the IPC, a magistrate court committed the case to a sessions court for trial. The sessions court framed charges against nine accused, discharging one Amit Jhingan.

In May 2001, several prosecution witnesses turned hostile one by one. But in July the same year, Malini Ramani, Bina Ramani, George Mailhot, and Surinder Sharma deposed and identified Manu in court.

In December 2006, the Delhi High Court convicted Manu, Vikas Yadav and Amardeep Singh Gill, and acquitted Aloke Khanna, Vikas Gill, Harvinder Singh Chopra, Raja Chopra, Shyam Sunder Sharma and Yograj Singh.