The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Twin tips out of tandoor

New Delhi, Nov. 4: The judgment in the Naina Sahni murder case is both a comment on the state of marriage in modern society and a warning to bureaucrats to keep away from shady politicians and criminals.

Additional sessions judge G.P. Thareja, who delivered the judgment yesterday, has traced Sahni’s murder by Sushil Sharma to the new generation’s scant respect for traditional marriage.

“The new generation experiments with various forms of cohabitation whose various versions differ in their level of commitment,” his 254-page judgment says. “This trend in the younger generation of society had led Sahni to live along with Sharma without marriage being performed by the social culture of the family to which she belonged.”

The commitment between partners in a live-in relationship is not as strong as in arranged marriages, he says. This and former Youth Congress leader Sharma’s refusal to accept the marriage in public were the reasons that led to the murder, the court has observed.

According to the chargesheet, Sharma and Sahni were living as husband and wife at their Mandir Marg flat after getting married. The couple met while studying in Delhi University, where both were active in student politics as members of the National Students’ Union of India.

The judgment hints that the disastrous fallout of the marital discord could have been avoided had Sharma and Sahni opted for traditional marriage. “In all cultures, families exercise some degree of control over the unmarried members till they attain the matrimonial stage,” the court observes.

Citing the Vedic way of life, Thareja says: “The emphasis on the sacredness of marriage ties in Vedic literature shows that the Vedic people had great esteem for marriage and family. But cohabitation seems to be the order of the day.”

The judgment notes Sharma had barred Sahni from stepping out of the flat to prevent disclosure of their marital status that could jeopardise his political career.

Congressman Matloob Karim, whom Sharma suspected of having an affair with Sahni, is worried about the verdict’s fallout as he is seeking a party ticket for the Delhi polls. Sharma had shot his wife dead over the suspicion on July 2, 1995.

The judgment also criticises senior IAS officer D.K. Rao, who allegedly harboured Sharma at Gujarat Bhavan, in Delhi, whose resident commissioner he was then. “No officer of the IAS should allow such a coveted service to be lowered in the estimation of (the) public. If one does, he should not be spared,” Thareja says, ordering the chief metropolitan magistrate to initiate prosecution proceedings against Rao.

“They (IAS officers) are not supposed to hobnob, mix up or have any nexus either with politicians of doubtful character or assist any criminal...” the judgment says.

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