Siddharth Vashisht aka Manu Sharma, who shot model Jessica Lal in 1999, who ran an unlicensed bar at a private party in South Delhi, was released from prison on Monday evening after the government accepted the sentence review committee’s recommendation.
Sharma came out of prison on Monday evening, hours after Governor Anil Baijal signed on the recommendation of the seven-member board. According to the law, any convict who has been in prison for 14 years without remission can be considered for early release if the person did not commit a heinous crime while on probation.
The board had previously refused to release him and asked Sharma’s lawyer to contact the Supreme Court to get his release. He informed the Supreme Court in November 2019 that the board had rejected his application for early release four times in an “unfair and unlawful manner”
The court had asked the board to review Sharma’s case for release at its next board meeting. This meeting took place on May 11th.
Manu Sharma was accused of violating his parole terms when he was released for two months in 2009, allegedly to take care of his sick mother in Chandigarh. A major controversy broke out when his sick mother was seen at a press conference in Delhi while the son was discovered at a nightclub in Delhi, where he got into another fight. The son of the police commissioner was involved in this. According to his probation requirements, he should have been in Chandigarh.
Sharma eventually returned to Tihar to serve the rest of his life 12 days before his probation ended.Jessica Lal’s murder case…..
Manu Sharma had drawn his gun and shot Jessica Lal after refusing to serve another drink well after midnight at the Qutub Colonnade Party in April 1999. Soon afterwards he went with his friends.
Sharma finally surrendered to the police about a week later with massive outrage against the police and his father Venod Sharma, then chairman of Congress. It has been claimed that his father used pressure to treat Manu Sharma gently.
Sharma was acquitted by the court in February 2006 and sparked protests across the country. There were suggestions that some police officers botched the probe.
The Delhi Supreme Court, which in an unusual move itself appealed the conviction to respond to the nationwide outrage. In a powerful verdict, which the court did not spare, the Supreme Court overturned the acquittal and found Manu Sharma guilty in December 2006.
The judges RS Sodhi and PK Bhasin considered that the trial judge’s reasoning for Manu Sharma’s acquittal was “immature”, “positive pervert”, “completely wrong” and “the result of the non-application of the mind”. The Supreme Court upheld the order in 2010.Moved to prison in 2018
Manu Sharma was transferred to an open prison in 2018, which allowed him to work with an NGO outside the prison grounds given his good behavior. Open prisoners are allowed to step out of the prison gate and work every day. You cannot leave the city or spend time outside of the place of work specified in the transfer order.
Forgiven, says Jessica’s sister………Jessica Lal’s sister Sabrina, who had led the litigation over justice, told HT last month that she had forgiven Manu Sharma.
“It’s been 21 years since the incident. My struggle has always been for justice. He served time for what he did. If he is free now, it doesn’t bother me very much. It’s okay. There comes a time when we have to keep going. I clearly went on. One can only hope that he (Sharma) never repeats what he did 21 years ago, ”he said.