Manu Sharma had on April 30, 1999, fatally shot Jessica Lall at a bar in the national capital's Mehrauli area after she had refused to serve him liquor.
There is immense anticipation over the fate of the perpetrator of one the most gruesome murders that sparked nationwide outrage forcing governments and the judiciary to take note. The murder of model Jessica Lall shot back to limelight when Jessica’s sister Sabrina Lall wrote to Tihar jail authorities that she will not object to the release of convict Manu Sharma, that she has fogrgiven him and needs to move on. The statement, which was later confirmed by Sabrina has created a buzz especially because it was she who was at the forefront of justice for her deceased sister.
While the reactions to Sabrina’s remarks have been mixed, Tihar Jail authorities say it may not be a factor in the release of Manu Sharma at all. Prison authorities say that Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal will decide the fate of Manu Sharma who is serving life term for murdering Jessical Lall at a bar in Delhi in 1999. Tihar jail officials made this statement after media reported that Jessica’s sister Sabrina had written to the prison that her family had forgiven Manu Sharma who is the son of former Union minister Vinod Sharma.
Explaining the procedure, a Tihar jail official said that Jessica’s sister can’t decide on the release of Manu Sharma and that the jail’s Sentence Review Board (SRB) will soon meet to review his case. According to him, the SRB will meet to examine at least case of 40-50 prisoners including Manu Sharma. The official said that SRB comprises eight high-rank officials. The meeting of the SRB will be presided over by Delhi Home Minister Satyendra Jain. The SRB will examine police reports and social welfare reports and then take a final call. The meeting was to be held today but now stands postponed to a later date.
The SRB’s recommendation will then be forwarded to the L-G for final approval. The official said that even if the SRB approves a prisoner’s release, the L-G reserves the right to turn down the SRB report.
Three months ago, Manu Sharma was shifted to an open prison. As per the rules, he is allowed to leave at 8 am and return by 6pm daily. According to jail officials, convicts after serving 12 years in jail are transferred to semi-open jail. Later, they are eligible for transfer to an open jail. While in the semi-open jail, a convict is allowed to move freely inside the jail complex, in an open jail the convict is allowed to go out for work. Manu Sharma is currently working at his family NGO Siddhartha Vashistha Trust. One a convict is transferred to an open, he can be released depending on his conduct.
Also according to the Delhi government’s rules, a murder convict serving life term can ask for a review of his punishment to seek premature release but such a request is entertained by the review board only if the convict has served 14 years without remission or 20 years with remission.
Manu Sharma had on April 30, 1999, fatally shot Jessica Lall at a bar in the national capital’s Mehrauli area after she had refused to serve him liquor. The trial court had acquitted him but in 2006, the Delhi High Court had reversed the order and awarded him life term. The Supreme Court had later upheld the order.