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DATE OF JUDGMENTJuly 28th , 2008
COURTThe Supreme Court of India
APPELLANTSwamy Shardanannda @ Murali Manohar Mishra
RESPONDENTState of Karnataka
BENCHB.N. Agrawal, G.S. Singhvi, Aftab Alam


Sharaddhananda v. State of Karnataka focuses on the terrible death of Ms. Shakereh Khaleeli, a former Dewan of the Kingdom of Mysore and granddaughter of Sir Mirza Ismail. She and her daughters resided in Richmond Town, Bangalore, along with her spouse. After divorcing Mr. Akbar Khaleeli, Ms. Shakereh wed Murali Manohar Mishra, also known as Swamy Shraddhananda. Ms. Shakereh Khaleeli was murdered by her then-husband  Swamy Shardanannda @ Murali Manohar Mishra in lieu of her property. 


The sad death of Ms. Shakereh Khaleeli, a granddaughter of Sir Mirza Ismail, a former Dewan of the Kingdom of Mysore, is at contention in the Swami Shraddhananda v. State of Karnataka case. Shakereh requested Swamy’s assistance in Delhi to settle her land-related issues when she saw she required assistance with her properties in Bangalore. They made the decision to be together during this period in Bangalore when they fell in love.

Shakereh was unreachable by friends and relatives in May of 1991. When her daughters tried to reach her on the home phone, calls were either not answered or answered by Swamy, who would keep coming up with an explanation for why Shakereh wasn’t there. Shakereh’s daughter eventually exposed his deceit. Following a string of odd incidents like these, a thorough search for the missing woman was launched.

During questioning by the police, Swamy eventually broke down and admitted to killing Shakereh. The killing was brutal and premeditated. After injecting her with a mixture that rendered her unconscious, he put her corpse in a big wooden box and had it lowered into a hole that had been excavated directly outside their bedroom. After that, the pit’s surface was sealed, filled with muck, and covered in stone slabs.

The man’s materialism for the woman’s belongings served as the motivation for the murder. He chose to kill her because he thought Shakereh would divorce him and he would no longer be able to live a life of luxury to which he had become used. He had already begun selling off her properties and emptying the vaults of their joint bank accounts while she was gone. It was because of the increasing evidence that Swamy Shraddhananda faced charges.

He was awarded a Death sentence by both the Trial Court and the High Court. Swamy Shardanannda @ Murali Manohar Mishra had appealed in front of the Supreme Court for a judgment against the order given by the Karnataka High Court.


  1. If this is one of the cases where the rarest of rare punishments of the death sentence would be offered?
  2. Is the court in view of lessening the punishment of Swamy Shradanannda for the brutal murder of his wife?
  3. What are the standards and categories in which the death penalty can be ordered?


The Sessions Judge found him guilty of murder and sentenced him to five years of grueling labor in jail along with a ten thousand rupee fine for destroying evidence of the crime. If the amount was not paid, he would be placed in simple imprisonment for a year.

By a judgment and order dated September 19, 2005, the Karnataka High Court upheld the appellant’s conviction and the death sentence that had been given to him. It also dismissed his appeal and accepted the trial court’s referral, leaving the conviction and punishment unchanged.


  1. Section 354(3) of the Code of Civil Procedure 
  2. Sec 45 IPC: The section defines the Life of a human being.
  3. Sec 53 IPC: The section deals with the kind of punishment dealt with the offender, the death penalty, imprisonment for life, imprisonment, and fine.
  4. Sec 302 IPC: The section is about punishment for murder
  5. Sec 201 IPC: The section deals with giving false information to the interrogating or the investing officer and causing the disappearance of evidence.


The court in this judgment was not concerned with the constitutionality of the death sentence. This was already dealt with in precedent cases. The issues raised by the rulings in Jagmohan Singh and Bachan Singh center on the validity of the death punishment and the ongoing discussion around its repeal. The Jagmohan Singh vs State of UP AIR1973 SC 947 concerns the time when Section 367(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1893, was deleted, eliminating the need for the court to provide justification for a decision to not execute a capital offender in favor of a life sentence instead. Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab AIR 1980 SC 898 pertains to the time frame following the enactment of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which grants the accused the right to a pre-sentence hearing under Section 235(2) and requires the court, under Section 354(3), to provide a statement of the “special reasons” for the death penalty, as opposed to its substitute, life in prison or a term of years in prison. The death penalty for murder and other capital crimes under the Penal Code was maintained by the court on both occasions as constitutionally permissible.

The court in this case majorly deals with standardization and categorization of the cases where capital punishment should be awarded. The Court was strongly persuaded to establish guidelines, designate the types of murder that would be punishable by the death penalty, and reserve the other types of murder for the lesser option of a life sentence in prison in order to preserve the death penalty from the vice of arbitrariness. The Court had previously stated that it would not overreach its authority and hurry to implement what Parliament intended since “standardization or sentencing discretion is a policy matter which belongs to the sphere of legislation.” The other submission was likewise dismissed by the Court unless it was able to properly identify the categories of grave murders and establish the exact parameters of Section 354(3). With serious offenses, there would always be a possibility that the death sentence would be used arbitrarily and capriciously.

Regarding this, the court upheld the prior ruling in the Jagmohan Singh case and noted that it was impossible to provide a comprehensive list of all the aggravating or mitigating factors that should be taken into account when sentencing an offender. It took the section from Jagmohan that approved paraphrased a statement from a 1971 US Supreme Court ruling in McGautha v. California, 402 US 183. General standards would be either worthless “boilerplate” or a statement of the obvious that no jury or judge would require due to the endless number of instances and aspects of each case. It also restated Jagmohan’s assessment that this kind of “standardization” is very unlikely.

Remission is solely the jurisdiction of the relevant Government; in this instance, it is acknowledged that while the relevant Government remitted some sentences under Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it did not remit the full penalty. As a result, we maintain that the petitioner does not now have the authority to release of sentence.


The Apex Court also mentioned how reluctant it was to uphold the appellant’s death sentence because of the ongoing disparity in sentencing, which allows one person to receive a harsh punishment while another escapes with a lesser one. 

The court stated that the murder of his wife for the reason of greed was too heinous and brutal. The offender had also lied to the investigating officer. He had shown no sign of guilt or remission as he had continued to live in the same room where he had brutally murdered and buried his wife. In lieu of the seriousness of the act he had committed, the Apex Court ordered that the appellant, Swamy Shraddhananda, could not be freed from prison for the remainder of his life. This would also mean that he would have no room for remission. 


The court stated that there can be no defined guidelines for the punishment of the death penalty, nor there can be restrictions on the remission of the sentence to the imprisonment term. The court upheld various precedent judgments and decided that there cannot be a restricted scope of punishment and nor can one offender get a higher punishment and one lower punishment. There has to be uniformity but it will also have to take into contention the facts of the case, the gravity, the reason, and the magnitude of the crime.


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