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Actress Vidya Balan expresses ire after Delhi govt recommends early release of Jessica Lal’s murderer Manu Sharma

Manu Sharma, who was convicted for the murder of model Jessica Lal in 1999, has been granted an early release by Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal on June 2 on the grounds of "good behaviour". Baijal granted early release on the recommendation of Delhi state home minister Satyendra Jain.

Bollywood actress Vidya Balan who had essayed the role of Jessica’s sister Sabrina Lal in Raj Kumar Gupta’s No One Killed Jessica, has reacted strongly to the news of the early release of Manu Sharma, who was convicted for the murder of model Jessica Lal in 1999.

Speaking to a media portal, the actress stated, “Personally speaking, I don’t think any amount of time for him or for people like him in jail is enough. So that will always play in my mind. Yes, maybe he has turned a new leaf. I hope he has. I hope he is a reformed person,” said Vidya.

The Bollywood actress continued, “So that’s all one can hope you know, after spending so much time in jail. That is the point of being in prison, right? That you reform. So let us hope that has happened.”

Convict Manu Sharma was granted early release by Lieutenant Governor of Delhi

Manu Sharma, who was convicted for the murder of model Jessica Lal in 1999, had been granted release by Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal on June 2 on the grounds of “good behaviour”. Baijal granted early release on the recommendation of Delhi state home minister Satyendra Jain.

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.

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.

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