Tandoor murder case
Abdul Nazir Kunju, a native of Kollam Ochira, and home guard Chandrapal were on duty at Ashoka Road that day at Delhi’s Connaught Place Police Station.
The streets are quiet. There are not many people on the streets.
Suddenly they heard someone shouting loudly that the hotel was on fire. Abdul Naseer and his colleague rushed to the spot. The fire and smoke came from a restaurant across the road. There are no telephone booths nearby to call the fire brigade. After sending his colleague inside the hotel, Abdul Nazir ran to the office to give the information via wireless. After informing the fire brigade, the smoke was heavy by the time they returned. The police who entered the hotel could see Keshav Kumar trying to rekindle the fire in the tandoori oven instead of trying to put it out. Congress worker Keshav Kumar told the police that they were destroying old notices and banners of the party when they asked for an explanation for setting the fire.
Another person was standing in the tent next to the gate. Delhi Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma.
He also said that he was burning the notice. Seeing the fire and smoke, those who ran away poured water in buckets and extinguished the fire.
However, Nasir Kunj, who was suspicious, conducted a detailed inspection at the place. A strong smell caused suspicion. On further inspection, Nazirkunju found half-roasted body parts of a woman in the oven. The legs of the half-burnt body could be seen. The remains were scattered behind the tandoori oven.
A black envelope stained with blood was also found next to the fireplace. The police officers who caught Keshav Kumar informed the superiors. Meanwhile Sushil Sharma had run away.
A team led by ACP Alok Kumar immediately reached the spot. During the later investigation, it was discovered that Sushil Sharma’s wife Naina Sahni was killed. A quarrel between Sushil and his wife resulted in the murder.
Sushil Sharma, who was the president of Delhi Youth Congress, was closely associated with the elite and those working at various levels of society. He aspired to great heights in politics. Meanwhile, Naina becomes close to Sahni and the relationship leads to marriage. However, Sushil’s discovery that Naina was still in a relationship with her ex-boyfriend caused a rift in the relationship. It finally resulted in murder.
Naina and Matlub Karim, who were members of Delhi University Union, were in love. Realizing that married life is not possible as they belong to different religions, they decided to remain friends. Naina gets closer to Sushil after that. Naina married Sushil in 1992, although Matlub, who knew Sushil earlier, opposed their marriage.
Naina had told Sushil about her relationship with Matlub. After six months, Naina’s life begins to suffer. Sushil, who was suspicious of Matlub and Naina’s friendship, suspected that there was an illicit relationship between them.
On two nights in July 1995, when Sushil arrived at the Mandir Marg flat, he saw his wife talking to someone on the phone. Seeing him and hanging up the phone made Sushil more suspicious. When I redialed, it was Matlub Karim who picked up the phone. After this, both of them had a fight. After the fight, Sushil took out his revolver and fired at Naina; Three times. One on the head, two on the neck and the third on the AC in the room. After confirming Naina’s death, Sushil cut the body into pieces and burned it in the tandoori oven of the restaurant managed by his friend Keshav Kumar. Sushil, who escaped from the hotel, surrendered on the ninth day.
On the day of the murder, Sushil, who was staying with his friend and IAS officer DK Rao at Gujarat Bhawan, crossed to Jaipur on the second day, and from there to Mumbai and then to Chennai. Sushil later reached Bengaluru and surrendered to the police there.
The police did not have any evidence to establish that Naina’s murder was done by Sushil.
The prosecution started with circumstantial evidence only. But to the shock of the prosecution, Sushil said that Naina was not married and did not live in the flat where the death took place. This argument was contradicted by the statement of other residents of the flat and the statement of Matlub that Naina had revealed to him that she had secretly married. Also, the evidence that the bullet from the gun recovered from Sushil’s possession by the police during the post-mortem is also crucial.
The trial of the case started on August 1, 1995, and the verdict came eight years later in 2003. Susheel Sharma was found guilty of murder and destruction of evidence and sentenced to death; The trial court sentenced Keshav Kumar to seven years in prison for conspiring to destroy the evidence.
The High Court upheld the conviction in 2007 following arguments accepted by Sushil in his appeal file. Susheel Sharma submitted a petition in the Supreme Court stating that the death penalty should be avoided and only the circumstantial evidence was considered for the punishment. The Supreme Court reduced the sentence by observing that the case was not a rare case.
The court held that it was not a crime against the society, but the problems that arose due to the deterioration of his relationship with his wife. Sushil did not get parole even once in twenty years. After being released from jail, Sushil told the media that a moment’s wrong thought cost him twenty years of precious life.
This article published in International Journal of Legal Science & Innovation ( https://www.ijlsi.com/the-tandoor-murder-case-case-comment/ ) examines in detail why the Indian justice system avoided the death penalty in this case. In India, the death penalty is only in very rare cases. The current situation is that even if we want, we cannot get death penalty.
For example, look at the information on the 3 cases mentioned on the same site.
- Mahendra Nath Das Vs State of Assam, AIR 1999 SC 1926: – In this case the accused killed the deceased with a sword, cut off his hand and head and then royally took the dead body to the police station. Therefore, the Supreme Court held that the act was extremely scandalous and the accused was entitled to death penalty.
- Mohammad Chaman Vs NCT of Delhi, SC 2000: – In this case the accused raped a one year old girl due to which she got injured and eventually the child died. Although the trial court awarded him death sentence and the High Court upheld the same, the Supreme Court held that the appellant was not a threat to the society and thereby quashed the death sentence and commuted it to life.
- Santosh Kumar Satishbhushan Bariyar Vs State of Maharashtra: – In this case accused and co-accused were looking for work and they planned to kidnap one of their friend and after that ask for ransom. Instead they killed him and cut his body into pieces and threw it in different places. One of the accused gave evidence against the complainant and the accused was sentenced to death. The High Court upheld the death sentence. However, the Supreme Court overturned the judgment on the ground that the method of cremation of the dead body did not involve the principle of rarity and there was scope for innovation on the part of the accused. Hence the death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment.
The cases 2 and 3 mentioned above are examples of how the encounter punishment method occurs in our country. Encounter cases are now going on like everyone knows everything but knows nothing. People lose faith in the court when the accused gets only life imprisonment in the second case, which is more serious than the first case.
A judgment is not only to punish an individual, but also to give a purpose to a society. All judgments also contain this face of inherent justice. It is common for so-called civilized societies around the world to react against the execution of extremely gruesome punishments such as amputation and public hanging in the Gulf countries and elsewhere. It is unthinkable in our country, but those horrible punishments are what make an assailant hesitate to raise his hand against many other innocent people in the society. At the same time, everyone believes that when viewed through the eyes of justice, the offender gets punished and the victims receive true justice. People’s faith in the judiciary is lost when there are verdicts that are against that belief. It is sad that the courts are not taking this one seriously. Some judgments help create a situation where the society looks favorably on all those who are connected with it in every field of law.
However, after the release of Sushil Sharma, we can understand from his own words that he has regret for the mistake he made in his future life. “I went blind for a moment, and then I don’t remember what happened,” he said in a later interview.
As for the case of Susheel Sharma, today no one wants him to get death sentence, but because he got away with it, he may become a new man, but a person should not be put in front of him and the final verdict should be taken for death penalty. It should be community oriented. Looking at it that way, if only the rarest of cases get the death penalty, people will have no fear of the law. I am not writing because I am not interested at the moment to write more and get the court ignored.
NB : Abdul Nazir Kunj, who discovered the murder, became a star through the media.