The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the death sentence granted to former Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma by a city court and upheld by the Delhi High Court for killing his wife Naina Sahni and burning her body in a 'tandoor' (earthen oven) in the capital 12 years ago.
A Bench headed by Justice SB Sinha, which stayed the death penalty, also admitted Sharma's appeal against the February 19, 2007 verdict of the Delhi High Court confirming the trial court's order to hang him till death.
Appeals against death sentences are admitted as a matter of routine by the apex court and death sentences stayed pending final disposal of the matter.
A Delhi High Court Division Bench headed by Justice RS Sodhi had held that there cannot be a better case for awarding a death sentence considering the gruesome manner in which the woman was killed and the body disposed of. "The society will be shocked if the extreme punishment is not awarded for this act of butchery," the HC had said upholding the death sentence awarded to him by the trial court on November 7, 2003.
In his appeal filed in the apex court, Sharma contended that no weapon was found from his possession at the time of his arrest in Bangalore and that the first post-morten report did not mention any bullet injury on the body of Sahni.
According to the police, Sharma believed his wife was having an illicit relationship with another party worker and during a quarrel over the issue at their residence in Gol Market in New Delhi on July 2 1995, he fired three shots from his licensed revolver killing Sahni on the spot.
Later, he cut her body into pieces, stuffed them into a gunny bag and brought it to the Bagiya restaurant owned by him at the Ashok Yatri Niwas. (now named Shangrila) He then tried to burn her body parts in the 'tandoor' with the help of the restaurant manager, Keshav who got 7-year imprisonment.
A police constable noticed smoke billowing out of the restaurant and saw body parts of a woman burning in the tandoor after he reached the spot.