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SC stays Shradhananda's death sentence

A petition claimed that neither court had considered the DNA report of the tests carried out on the exhumed body.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 19:42 IST

The Supreme Court has stayed the death sentence of spiritual guru Swami Shradhananda, convicted of murdering his wife Begum Shakereh Namazi, a member of the erstwhile royal family of Mysore.

A Bench comprising Judge Ashok Bhan and Judge Tarun Chatterjee on Friday stayed the Karnataka High Court's judgement confirming the death sentence awarded by a trial court.

The Supreme Court also sought Karnataka Government's response to Shradhananda's special leave petition questioning the High Court judgement given on September 19, 2005.

The prosecution had charged Shardhananda with murdering Shakereh, the granddaughter of Sir Mirza Ismail, the former Diwan of Mysore, with a view to grabbing her property.

Shakereh had married Shardhananda alias Murli Manohar Mishra in 1986 after divorcing Akbar Khaleeli, a former diplomat.

It was alleged that Shradhananda had drugged Shakereh, killed her and then buried her body in the compound of her bungalow in Bangalore on April 28, 1991.

On a complaint from Shakereh's daughter, her body was exhumed and the guru was arrested.

Shardhananda's petition against the High Court judgement said that it was unfortunate that both the trial court and the High Court had got carried away by the highly unreliable evidence and failed to appreciate that the case was based on circumstantial evidence.

It said that a critical aspect that had been left untouched by both the courts was the proper appreciation of a DNA report done on the exhumed body.

It added that the report was not above suspicion and created a doubt because of the circumstances under which it had been conducted.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 19:42 IST