Shradhanand’s counsel Varun Thakur pleaded with a bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices Hima Kohli and J B Pardiwala that the convict was sentenced to life imprisonment without remission or parole for a single murder and that he has already spent 29 years inside jail, without even getting a day’s parole.
Even those convicted of assassinating former PM Rajiv Gandhi, an incident in which 16 people were killed and 43 injured in 1991, have been released from prison after suffering 30 years’ incarceration with parole, Thakur said. “This is a classic case of violation of right to equality,” he said. The bench agreed to list the petition early for hearing.
In the application for early hearing, Thakur said the petitioner is more than 80 years old and has been in jail since March 1994. As a death row convict, he was kept in solitary confinement of Belgaum jail for three years and also suffers from multiple ailments, the counsel said.
He said his plea for grant of remission and parole was filed in 2014 but has been pending without any further hearing after the apex court issued notice to the Karnataka government.
On November 11, SC had ordered release of life convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case- Nalini, Murugan, Ravichandran, Jayakumar, Santhan alias Suthenthiraraja and Robert Pius. On May 18, the SC had used its omnibus powers under Article 142 to order release of another Rajiv assassination case lifer A G Perarivalan.
Shakereh, granddaughter of a former Dewan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail, had married Shradhanand in 1986, a year after divorcing her husband of 21 years, Akbar Khaleeli, India’s former envoy to Australia and Iran. The crime was committed to usurp Rs 600 crore worth of property of Shakereh, who was drugged and buried alive sometime in April-May 1991. Her body was exhumed and Shradhanand arrested on April 30, 1994. In 2000, a trial court sentenced him to death. In 2005, the Karnataka high court confirmed the sentence. On his appeal, the SC in 2008 had altered the sentence from death penalty to “imprisonment for his whole lifetime without any remission”.