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'Except for the crime, Sharma an asset for nation'


Arunima,CNN-IBN
Mar 25, 2008 at 08:10am IST

New Delhi: After six years of trial, 20,000 pages of court documents and 209 prosecution witnesses — of which 51 turned hostile — IPS officer RK Sharma has been sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the high-profile murder case of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar.

Sharma's accomplices — Sri Bhagwan, Satya Prakash and Pradeep Sharma — too were given life in jail.

RK Sharma became India's first IPS officer to get a life term for murder. The sentencing in the case took place in a Delhi district court on Monday.

The court refused to see the murder as a rarest of rare crime, which would have meant the death penalty.

In his verdict, Judge RK Shastri said except for the crime in question, Sharma was an asset to this nation.

The judgement went to the extent of saying that the court was bound by law passed by legislators and have no option but to award at least the minimum punishment prescribed by law.

"The court has observed that the conduct of the convicts is good enough and, therefore, the death sentence is not needed," defence counsel DD Goswami said.

Sharma has already spent six years in jail. The review of his sentence will be up after he completes 14 years in prison.

The defence camp has, however, made it clear that they will appeal in the high court against the conviction.

The fact that judge Sharsti had called RK Sharma an asset for the nation may also go in his favour. But till that happens, the former IG (prisons) will have to lead the life of a prisoner in Delhi's Tihar Jail.

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