Manu Sharma, who was convicted for the murder of model Jessica Lal in 1999, has been granted release by Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal. Baijal granted early release on recommendation of Delhi state home minister Satyendra Jain.
After a recommendation by #Delhi Govt, Lieutenant Governor also approved pre-mature release of 1999 Jessica Lal murder case convict Manu Sharma.— Utkarsh Anand (@utkarsh_aanand) June 2, 2020
He was serving life term but pleaded for early release for good conduct. Jessica's sister too said no objection.
He is a free man now! pic.twitter.com/vqlwDoWrY1
Sharma is the son of former Congress leader Venod Sharma. News agency ANI reported that a seven-member Sentence Review Board (SRB) had a meeting last month to decide on the release of 34 convicts who are eligible for early release. The list included the name of Sharma as well.
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi allows the release of Manu Sharma (in file pic) after Sentence Review Board recommendation. He was convicted in 1999 Jessica Lal murder case. pic.twitter.com/y0tXThTqiF— ANI (@ANI) June 2, 2020
As per the law, any convict excluding one found guilty of heinous crimes such as rape and murder, murder and robbery, murder in cases of terrorism and murder while out on parole, who has completed 14 years in prison, is eligible for an early release. SRB recommended in their report sent to Baijal that Manu Sharma is eligible for such release.
Amit Sahni, Sharma’s lawyer, filed a petition in Delhi High Court and asked for his release in November 2019. He said that Sharma had spent 23 years in Jail, including remission. He has a record of good conduct in prison, but SRB denied his release four times. The lawyer added that it is unfair and unlawful behaviour. The court asked SRB to consider his case for release in the next meeting on 11th May.
Delhi State home minister, who is the chairman of the board along with director-general of prison, home secretary of state, law secretary of state, a district judge, and chief probationary officer of the government along with a joint commissioner rank officer of Delhi Police were part of the Sentence Review Board.
Jessica Lal murder case
43-year-old Siddharth Vashishta, known by his alias Manu Sharma shot dead model Jessica Lal on 30th April 1999 for refusing a drink at a party. She was tending an unlicensed bar at a private party and refused to serve Sharma a drink past midnight, after which Sharma shot her dead. Haryana politician Venod Sharma is his father and has an influential political background.
In February 2006, Sharma was acquitted by a city court, which had triggered protests all over the country. Delhi high court took up the case and reversed the order. They mentioned in the judgment that the lower court ignored or misread material evidence. Sharma was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2006. The judgment was challenged in the Supreme Court, but the court upheld the conviction in 2010.
When Sabrina Lal, sister of Jessica, was approached last month after the board’s decision, she said that she had forgiven Sharma. According to the prison officials, Sharma’s work inside the prison supported his case in front of the SRB. He runs a non-government organization by the name Siddhartha Vashishta Charitable Trust that helps in funding the education of children of prison inmates. The NGO started working in Tihar around eight years ago.