The prosecution on Thursday demanded death penalty for convicted IPS officer RK Sharma and hired killer Pradeep Sharma in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case.
After hearing arguments of the prosecution and the defence lawyers, Additional Sessions Judge R K Shastri reserved his orders till March 24.
Special Public Prosecutor SK Saxena argued that the crime committed by Sharma and Pradeep was “nothing but a pre-meditated act of cold-blooded murder” which came under the ambit of the Supreme Court-set criteria of “rarest of rare case” meriting a death sentence.
Saxena, however, sought life sentence for the other two convicts-Satya Prakash and Sri Bhagwan saying they had played a lesser role in the execution of the crime.
The court had held that while Sharma was the mastermind, it was Pradeep who killed Shivani. The IPS officer had hatched the conspiracy to murder the journalist at her residence in East Delhi on January 23, 1999 with the help of Satya Prakash and Sri Bhagwan. The four accused were present during the two-hour long arguments.
Contending that the murder was carried out in the “most brutal manner,” Saxena said her windpipe had broken. He said Shivani had multiple stab injuries on her chest and knee. Saxena cited judgments in Macchi Singh and Bachi Singh cases in which the Supreme Court said that factors like manner, motive and magnitude is to be considered in determining whether a case should be considered as “rarest of rare”.
Interestingly, while opposing the death penalty, the defence too cited the very same judgments relied upon by the prosecution. Sharma's counsel SP Minocha said: “Just because a journalist was allegedly killed by an IPS officer, it does not constitute an offence falling under the rarest of rare category calling for the maximum punishment. This was an ordinary murder except the fact that the victim was a reporter”.
He said even the prosecution had admitted Shivani constantly threatened Sharma that she will ruin his life and therefore the murder should also be seen as “the act by a human mind which went astray fed up with constant harassment and blackmail”. Minocha said Sharma deserved leniency as he had no past criminal record and should be given a chance to transform.
Pradeep's lawyer DB Goswami said the murder couldn't be termed as brutal as the victim was strangled till she died and then stabbed. “The body was not cut into pieces or burnt and therefore it can't be termed as most heinous,” he said.
On accusations that they caste aspersions on Shivani's character, the defence said, It was the prosecution case that Sharma got Shivani killed because he wanted to walk out of their intimate relationship. “We had all along maintained that they were just good friends,” said Minocha.
A pensive-looking Sharma stood in the dock for about 20 minutes during the proceedings and then sought the court's permission to sit on a chair due to his back ailment. There was also some ruckus in the court when Sharma refused to be taken away by the police after the proceedings. “I will not leave the court till I am give a copy of Judgment,” Sharma kept saying stubbornly.