New Delhi: Manu Sharma, who was serving a life term in the sensational 1999 Jessica Lal Murder case, was released from Tihar Jail on Monday after Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal approved his premature release, Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Geol said on Tuesday.
Baijal approved the release of Sharma, son of former Union minister Venod Sharma, on a recommendation by the Delhi Sentence Review Board (DSRB), which is under the Delhi Government, according to officials.
On May 28, the Delhi Home Department had issued an order for premature release of 19 convicts, including Sharma’s, they said.
“Sharma walked out of jail on Monday. He spent 17 years behind bars. His actual period with remission is 23 years and four months,” Goel said.
Sharma was convicted in 2006 for shooting model Jessica Lal after she refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade in south Delhi’s Mehrauli area on the night of April 30,
Women activists call unfortunate’, bizarre’
Women rights activists called “unfortunate” the decision to prematurely release Jessica Lal murder case convict Manu Sharma, saying it sets a wrong precedent.
Activist-politician Brinda Karat said there is absolutely no ground for giving Sharma a lenient release and that it is surprising that a board headed by a Delhi minister should come forth with such a recommendation.
“On what basis did the Delhi Sentence Review Board take a decision to recommend a criminal, who is convicted of the murder of a young woman, to be released three years earlier? It sets a very wrong precedent,” she said.
“Good behaviour is subjective When somebody is convicted, unless he is proved to be not guilty, but he is proven guilty. He has a 20-year sentence he should complete those 20 years and particularly in such a case in which a young girl was so brutally murdered. So it sets a wrong precedent,” Karat added.
Women rights activist Shamina Shafiq said the decision to release Sharma is “shocking and bizarre”.
“Already the country has been dealing with so much as far as crime against women is concerned. For Nirbhaya’, it took so many years of turmoil to get justice for the family. Now, we see one more person walking scot-free and in the name of what? In the pretext of what?” she said.
“I hope better sense prevails and the government thinks about giving stringent punishment and send a strong message to society instead of actually going so soft on the criminals, especially those with serious charges. It is not something to rejoice it is something to really think and ponder as to whether the government is actually serious about Beti Bachao’ or is it only sloganeering,” Shafiq, a former member of the National Commission for Women, said.
Chhavi Methi from the Bharatiya Samajik Jagritik Sanghatan called the development “unfortunate”.
“The decision is unfortunate. It is very subjective what good behaviour is and what work he has actually done to show good behaviour’. It should not be a ground for basing early release,” she noted.
Yogita Bhayana, who heads the People Against Rape in India (PARI), however, said Sharma should be given the “benefit of doubt”.
“If he has reformed and if he is going early because of his good behaviour, it should be fine. I heard his stories about regret. What happened is unfortunate, but if he regrets it, then he should be given the benefit of doubt. And it isn’t that he is coming out very early, he is coming out two-three years early. A murderer can be reformed not a rapist,” she said.
PARI seeks to support rape survivors and help them in their fight for justice.
Sabrina plans to start foundation in sister Jessica Lal’s memory
Sabrina Lal, who fought a long legal battle to bring her sister Jessica Lal’s killer to book, plans to start a foundation in the memory of her sister and help women in similar situations get justice.
She says she has forgiven her sister’s killer, Manu Sharma, who walked out of jail on June 1 after the Delhi Sentence Review Board recommended his premature release.
Siddharth Vashisht, better known as Manu Sharma, was serving life sentence in Tihar Jail here for the 1999 murder.
“I really do not have anything to say. I am not feeling anything. I feel numb. The only thing I hope and pray to God is that he never thinks of repeating that mistake again,” Sabrina told PTI on Tuesday.
She had in 2018 written to the jail authorities that she had no objection to Sharma’s release.
“I wrote that I had no objection to his release. It was a long and arduous fight… It was very difficult. It is not easy to go back to a normal life.