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Notice to Government in Shakereh murder case

Staff Reporter

Shraddananda appeals against death sentence

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday ordered issue of notices to the State Government on an appeal by Swami Shraddananda, the self-styled godman, who was sentenced to death by a city court for murdering his wife, Begum Shakereh Namazi.

A Division Bench comprising Justice S.R. Bannurnmath and Justice K. Bhaktavatsala is hearing the appeal by Shraddananda against his conviction.

The 23rd Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge, B.S. Thotad, in May 2005 sentenced Swami Shraddananda (69), who was earlier known as Murli Manohar Mishra, to death for murdering Shakereh and for destroying evidence. The Judge had also sentenced Shraddananda, a native of Madhya Pradesh, to five years of rigorous imprisonment and fined him Rs. 10,000 for destruction of evidence. The prosecution's case was that Shraddananda had drugged Shakereh, placed her body in a coffin and buried it on April 28, 1991 in a corner of the compound of her sprawling bungalow on Richmond Road.

Shakereh, granddaughter of the former Dewan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail, married Shraddananda in 1986 after divorcing her husband, Akbar Khaleeli, a former diplomat.

When Shakereh's daughters from her earlier marriage questioned Shraddananda about their mother, he said she had gone abroad.

One of her daughters lodged a complaint with the police about her "missing" mother. In April 1994, Shakereh's body was exhumed. Shraddananda was subsequently arrested.

In his appeal from the Central Jail in Belgaum where he is currently lodged, Sharaddananda said it was not apparent that Shakereh was done to death and the prosecution did a u-turn that she was drugged and put in a box.

He said there were no eyewitnesses to the occurrence and that the trial court, while passing the sentence, had not considered that he had been in jail for 11 years.

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