Romesh Sharma, 5 others get life
Romesh Sharma, an alleged aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, and five of his associates were sentenced to life imprisonment on Monday afternoon in the Kunjum Budhiraja murder case.
Sharma and others were convicted on Friday for conspiring and getting Kunjum, his live-in partner, killed on March 20, 1999, at his south Delhi farmhouse.
Like always, dressed in a spotless white dhoti-kurta, and a tilak on his forehead, Sharma walked out of the court soon after the sentence was pronounced.
He seemed unruffled as he exchanged greetings with a few media persons present in the court. The CBI had demanded death penalty for Sharma who was convicted largely on the basis of circumstantial evidence. Additional Sessions Judge S.P. Garg observed: “Conspiracy is writ large as when deceased Kunjum reached the farmhouse, she was alone and nobody, not even a pandit (priest) was present there. And this question has not been satisfactorily answered by Sharma.” Justice Garg has also imposed a fine of Rs.50,000 on him.
Tejinder Virdi alias Dolly, who was found guilty of conspiring along with Romesh to kill Kunjum as she wanted to marry him, has been asked to pay a fine of Rs.5000. The court imposed the same amount on Sharma’s nephew Surinder Mishra.
The other three convicts — Hemchand, Santram and Ramesh — were Sharma’s henchmen and the court has imposed a fine of Rs.1,000 each on them.
During a brief argument on the point of sentence, the defence counsels vehemently opposed the prosecution’s plea seeking death penalty for the convicts.
Noted criminal lawyer Pandit R.K. Naseem argued that Kunjum’s case does not fall under the “rarest of rare cases”. “There are no special reasons for awarding capital punishment. There can’t be death punishment in all the murder cases. It is an ordinary case of murder,” he said.
In a major setback to the opposition Congress, which aims at returning to power in Himachal in the upcoming assembly elections, two of its MLAs Pawan Kajal and Lakhwinder Singh Rana joined the BJP on Wednesday. A two-term legislator who represents Kangra, Pawan Kajal, was also the working president of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee. Both the defector MLAs were expelled from Congress for six years for anti-party activities after they joined the BJP.
Two months on, police have been unable to trace persons behind the threat calls to Jalandhar West MLA Sheetal Angural. MLA Angural had allegedly received threat calls from two unknown numbers, bearing a picture of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, for eight to 10 days starting June 16. Though the callers did not ask him for money, they repeatedly told him to resign while stating that if he stayed on as MLA, his family would be killed.
A 24-year-old woman on Tuesday died by suicide after giving poison to her two young children In Udham Singh Nagar district. Police said it is not clear why the woman decided to die by suicide or kill two of her three children. She later met another man and started living with him. A month back, she gave birth to her third child. Police said she allegedly consumed poison when the man had gone to work.
The Congress on Wednesday hailed Bihar's new 31-minister government under the 'grand alliance', and said the leaders of the state emerged on top despite the Bharatiya Janata party's intimidation attempts. On Tuesday, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar expanded his cabinet by inducting 31 ministers, days after he and his deputy Rashtriya Janata Dal's Tejashwi Yadav took oath. BJP spokespersons were unavailable to comment on the matter.
Lance Naik Chandrashekhar Harbola, the soldier whose body was found in a bunker 38 years after he went missing on the Siachen Glacier, was cremated with full military honours at Haldwani in Uttarakhand's Nainital district on Wednesday. Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, sainik welfare minister Ganesh Joshi and women empowerment minister Rekha Arya met his wife, Shanti Devi, 63, to convey their condolences and pay homage to the soldier before the last rites.