Three other convicts were also sentenced to life imprisonment for the journalist's gruesome murder, whose trial formally ended on Monday in a rare verdict against an inspector general-rank official.
Additional Sessions Judge Rajender Kumar Shastri, disallowing the prosecution's plea that the convicts be sent to the gallows, said "R K Sharma has got an excellent service record as a police officer and the extreme penalty was not needed in this case."
Pronouncing the quantum of sentence in a packed courtroom, the judge added "Moreover, the convict Sharma has no previous criminal history."
Besides Sharma, those sentenced to life imprisonment are hired killer Pradeep Sharma, Sri Bhagwan and Satya Prakash.
Apart from the jail sentence in the nine-year-old murder case, the court also imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 on Sharma and Rs 10,000 each on the other three accused.
Sharma, on 1976-Batch IPS officer, along with three others, was convicted on March 18 for plotting Shivani's murder in her east Delhi apartment on January 23, 1999.