By Arré Bench Jun. 03, 2020
Manu Sharma, convicted of murdering Jessica Lall, was set free from Tihar Jail on grounds of good behaviour, three years before he served his life sentence. The decision was taken by the Sentence Review Board, headed by Delhi’s Home Minister Satyender Jain and approved by the Lieutenant-Governor, Anil Baijal.
In Delhi, the convicted murderer Manu Sharma, also known as Siddharth Vashisht, was set free from Tihar Jail on the grounds of good behaviour. Sharma was the accused in one of the most high-profile trials of the Indian judicial system, the Jessica Lall murder case of 1999, which became an example of how power and privilege could be misused to get away with even a heinous crime like murder. That is, until the Delhi High Court overturned the trial court’s acquittal of Sharma, and found him guilty of murder, sentencing him to life imprisonment. Yesterday, the decision was taken by the Sentence Review Board, headed by Delhi’s Home Minister Satyender Jain and approved by the Lieutenant-Governor, Anil Baijal, to release Sharma after 17 years imprisonment on the grounds of good behaviour.
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
Sharma was found guilty of shooting the model Jessica Lall at a private party in South Delhi over a disagreement that stemmed from her refusing to continue serving him drinks. At the time, in 1999, Sharma’s father Venod Sharma was a leader of the Congress party from Haryana, and so wielded considerable influence. Since then, Venod Sharma has broken away from Congress and founded his own political party. The trial court that initially heard the case acquitted Sharma, leading to massive outrage from the public, which prompted the Delhi High Court to step in and take up the case again. Sharma was found guilty and sentence to jail. However, there are some who claim that Sharma’s connections and privilege served him well even during the term of his imprisonment, as he received many perks that regular prisoners of Tihar Jail do not.
Would love to cheer an inmate being released after reform but #manusharma used every influence he could to be comfy in jail. Own cell, a hotel nearby to entertain jail staff, gave jobs in his brother’s company to officials’ kin, open jail n now gets to walk to freedom. Privileged
— sunetra choudhury (@sunetrac) June 2, 2020
Since 2017, Sharma had been making appeals to overturn his life sentence, which had all been rejected. But with the coronavirus pandemic leading to fears of overcrowding in jail, this could have been a possible reason for his release at this juncture. In 2018, Sabrina Lall, the sister of Sharma’s victim, stated that she had forgiven him as he had spent many years serving his jail term, and that for her, his conviction was justice served.
After a recommendation by #Delhi Govt, Lieutenant Governor also approved pre-mature release of 1999 Jessica Lal murder case convict Manu Sharma.
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
— Utkarsh Anand (@utkarsh_aanand) June 2, 2020
Yet even as Sharma walks out a free man, many have pointed out that the Delhi Police are continuing to make arrests on one hand, while authorities call for the need to decongest jails on the other. The recent arrests of the activists protesting the government’s Citizenship Amendment Act are a stark contrast to the release of Manu Sharma, a convicted killer.
👉Delhi’s LG ALLOWS EARLY RELEASE of Jessica Lal’s Murderer Manu Sharma
👉Convicted of murder & evidence destruction
👉Meanwhile, undertrials like a pregnant @SafooraZargar & Pinjda Tod girls are rotting in jail during Corona
👉Before USA, apna desh dekhlo!
— Saahil Murli Menghani (@saahilmenghani) June 2, 2020
Jessica Lall’s mother never got to see her daughter’s killer convicted, and her father died shortly after the verdict. Now, her sister will get to see him walk out of jail a free man.