Life-long jail without remission to ‘guru’ for murdering wife

July 22nd, 2008 - 11:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court Tuesday devised a novel, third category of punishment for murderers - a remission-less, life-long jail term, besides the legally prescribed usual death penalty or the normal life sentence, generally lasting 14 years. A bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal sentenced self-styled spiritual guru Swamy Shraddananda alias Murali Manohar Mishra to life imprisonment without remission for murdering his wife in May 1992.

The bench, which also included Justices G.S. Singhvi and Aftab Alam, devised the novel punishment while reviewing an earlier spilt verdict of the apex court, which was unable to decide whether to give death penalty or the life sentence to Shraddananda.

Shraddananda had been given the death penalty by a Bangalore trial court for burying alive his wife Shakereh, who had married him after divorcing her diplomat husband. The Karnataka High Court later had endorsed trial court’s ruling.

As Shraddananda appealed against the high court ruling, a bench of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice Markandey Katju found him guilty of murder in May 2007. But the bench differed on the exact sentence to him.

While Justice Sinha prescribed life term for him, Justice Katju gave the death penalty.

While reviewing the split verdict, the three-judge bench, headed by Justice Agarwal, devised a novel third category of punishment for him owing to the “depravity and perversity” of the heinous murder committed by Shraddananda.

“The formalisation of a special category of sentence, though for an extremely few number of cases, shall have the great advantage of having the death penalty on the statute book but to actually use it as little as possible and only in the rarest of the rare cases,” said the bench while according the punishment to Shraddananda.

The bench said “He (Swamy) shall not be released from prison till the rest of his life.”

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