The Delhi High Court has asked the Delhi government why was former Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma not released from Tihar jail despite undergoing 25 years of imprisonment in the infamous murder of his wife Naina Sahni which came to be known as the ‘Tandoor murder case’.
A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal posed the query before the government while hearing Sharma’s plea for release from jail on various grounds, including his “illegal” incarceration despite having spent 25 years in jail exhibiting good conduct.
“The life and liberty of any individual is of paramount consideration and therefore the matter is urgent in nature. We need to know how and why you can keep someone in custody indefinitely,” the bench remarked as it asked the Delhi government to place before it the original record of the Sentence Review Board which had rejected Sharma’s plea for pre-mature release.
“The principal Secretary (Home), GNCTD as well as the law secretary are requested to remain present before this court on the next date of hearing to assist this court in determination of these proceedings,” the bench ordered while listing the matter for December 18.
The 56-year-old leader has moved high court through advocate Amit Sahni by way of a habeas corpus petition wherein he stated that he has completed maximum prescribed period, i.e., 25 years of incarceration and therefore, his continued imprisonment is illegal.
Sahni also submitted that the “conduct of the petitioner throughout incarceration is satisfactory. The Petitioner never misused the concession of bail/parole/furlough granted to him on various occasions. No Complaint of whatever nature, was received against the Petitioner throughout his incarceration”.
In 1995, Sharma was found guilty of murdering his wife Naina as he did not approve of her friendship with a particular male friend. He had chopped her into pieces and then tried to burn them in a clay oven (tandoor) at a restaurant.
He was sentenced to death but in 2013, the Supreme Court commuted it to life due to his clean antecedents.
Sahni told the court that Sharma has already undergone the maximum prescribed sentence as mandated in SRB Order.
He said the order governing premature release of the convicts categorises lifers in two groups—those convicted for single offence and the others convicted for more heinous offences.
It was submitted that Sharma’s case fell in first category and he should have been released after completion of 20 years and even if his case is considered to be under heinous category, the custody should not have exceeded 25 years.
Sahni had recently moved court seeking directions to ensure that the SRB considers the cases for pre-mature release in all fairness.