The Delhi High Court today asked the Delhi government to consider the remission plea of former youth Congress leader Sushil Kumar Sharma, serving life term in the 1995 murder case of his wife Naina Sahni, in the upcoming meeting of Sentence Review Board (SRB) later this month.
The court said if the board declines the relief to Sharma, the State shall file an affidavit before it detailing the reasons for rejection and whether the SRB guidelines formed by the State are binding on it or not.
Justice Mukta Gupta also asked the government to explain in the affidavit the factors which are to be considered while dealing with a convict's application seeking to be released.
Sharma has challenged the decision of the SRB, which examines the records of those who have spent more than 14 years in jail and those who were given life term, declining his plea for release.
The board, which was constituted in 2004 as per Supreme Court directives and is chaired by the Delhi Home Minister, decides on the pleas of convicts and other related issues. The board also has representatives of Tihar Jail, Delhi Police and Home Department as its members.
The court was informed by Delhi Government Standing Counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra that the board's meeting is scheduled in the last week of July and as per the Supreme Court, life imprisonment means life and it is not mandatory to release a convict after spending 25 years in jail.
Sharma, who is serving life term for murdering his wife Naina Sahni, chopping her body and throwing the parts in a restaurant's tandoor here, has sought premature release on the grounds that he has spent over 25 years in jail.
The court was also hearing another plea for remission by convict Sikander, serving life term for murdering his step mother and her daughter over a property dispute in 1988.
Senior advocate Manoj Ohri, appearing for Sikander, said according to an order of the high court, the board shall meet quarterly but it was not being done.
Advocates Sumeet Verma and Amit Sahni, representing Sharma, said the convicts in more henious offences have been released and claimed that the board's decision was arbitrary and in violation of the guidelines.
The counsel said the case of Sharma was last considered in September last year. Sharma has applied for release before the board thrice and his pleas were turned down in January 2016, September 2016 and in September 2017.
During the hearing, the court posed various questions to the government, including when was the last meeting of board held, when the case of both the convicts was last considered and the reasons for rejecting the plea.
It also said that the officers should not decide a case after going by media hype and it should be considered after going through the facts. The court listed the matter for hearing on September 7.
The counsel had submitted that the years also include four years in remission earned over the period of jail term.
In September 2015, 20 years after he was sent to jail for the murder, Sharma was released on unconditional parole till a final decision on his release was taken.
Now 56, Sharma had shot his wife Naina Sahni to death in 1995 objecting to her alleged relationship with a male friend. He had then chopped her body into pieces and attempted to burn it in a restaurant's oven.
Known as the tandoor murder case, it is one of the landmark cases in India in which DNA evidence and a second autopsy were used to establish the guilt of the accused.
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