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Explained: As Manu Sharma is released, a look-back at the Jessica Lall murder case

In April 2018, Jessica Lall’s sister Sabrina said she had forgiven Sharma and wouldn’t object to his release.

Manu sharma, Manu sharma freed, Jessica Lall murder case, Siddharth Vashishth, Manu Sharma son of Venon Sharma, Jessica Lall sister Sabrina, no one killed jessica, shayan munshi, express explained, indian express Jessica Lall was shot dead by Manu Sharma on April 29, 1999. (Source: Express Archive).

Convict Manu Sharma, serving life sentence for the murder of model Jessica Lall in a New Delhi restaurant in 1999, has been ordered for premature release from Tihar jail by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.

Sharma is already out on parole since the first week of April, as part of measures to decongest jails to ensure social distancing among prisoners.

The Delhi government’s sentence review board was learnt to have recommended Sharma’s premature release on May 11. His case had come up for review multiple times since 2017, only to be rejected.

The board is chaired by the Delhi Home Minister, and committee members include Director General (Prisons), Principal Secretary (Home), Principal Secretary (Law), Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), the government’s chief probation officer and a district judge.

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An application for remission is considered only when a life convict has spent 14 years in jail. The board takes into account several factors, such as the conduct of the prisoner in jail, whether the crime was premeditated or a spur of the moment act, nature and gravity of the crime, propensity for committing the crime, prospects of post-release rehabilitation etc.

The Jessica Lall case

On April 29, 1999, Siddharth Vashishth alias Manu Sharma, son of former Union minister and Haryana Congress leader Venod Sharma, shot dead 34-year-old model Jessica Lall 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. Jessica was rushed to Apollo Hospital, and doctors declared her brought dead on April 30.

Manu sharma, Manu sharma freed, Jessica Lall murder case, Siddharth Vashishth, Manu Sharma son of Venon Sharma, Jessica Lall sister Sabrina, no one killed jessica, shayan munshi, express explained, indian express In February 2006, the trial court acquitted Manu Sharma, and a nationwide public outcry against the incident followed. (File)

In May 1999, Delhi Police recovered a Tata Safari belonging to Manu Sharma from Noida in Uttar Pradesh. A few days later, Manu surrendered before a court in Chandigarh, even as 10 other co-accused in the case, including the son of UP politician Vikas Yadav, were arrested. After a chargesheet was filed against the accused under various sections of the IPC, a magistrate court committed the case to a sessions court for trial. The sessions court framed charges against nine accused, discharging one Amit Jhingan.

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In May 2001, several prosecution witnesses turned hostile. But in July the same year, Malini Ramani, Bina Ramani, George Mailhot, and Surinder Sharma deposed and identified Manu in court.

In February 2006, the trial court acquitted Sharma, and a nationwide public outcry against the incident followed. Next, the Delhi High Court took up the case through a fast-track trial that ended in his conviction on murder charges. It convicted Manu, Vikas Yadav and Amardeep Singh Gill, and acquitted Aloke Khanna, Vikas Gill, Harvinder Singh Chopra, Raja Chopra, Shyam Sunder Sharma and Yograj Singh. The court awarded life imprisonment to Manu Sharma and slapped a fine of Rs 50,000, while it awarded four years’ prison term with Rs 3,000 fine each for co-convicts Amardeep Singh Gill and Vikas Yadav.

Jessica Lall’s mother May Lall died in 2000 awaiting justice for her daughter. Her father Ajit Kumar Lall died in 2006 and was undergoing treatment for brain haemorrhage.

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Manu Sharma appealed twice to the Supreme Court in the case, but his pleas were rejected. In April 2010, the apex court upheld the conviction and life term for Manu.

Shayan Munshi, a primary prosecution witness in the Jessica murder case, stands accused of lying under oath during trial before the sessions court. The Delhi High Court registrar had filed two separate complaints against them in September 2013, after the High Court passed an order on March 22, 2013, directing their prosecution for perjury.

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Munshi was granted bail by the Delhi court in 2014 and was also imposed with several conditions, that he would regularly attend the hearings, would not influence witnesses or tamper with the records in any manner, and would inform the court before leaving India.

In April 2018, Jessica Lall’s sister Sabrina said she had forgiven Sharma and wouldn’t object to his release from Tihar jail, where he had been serving life term since 2006. In a letter to the welfare office of Tihar jail, Sabrina had mentioned that she had no objection to the release of Siddharth Vashishta alias Manu Sharma, as he had spent 15 years in prison.

First published on: 02-06-2020 at 21:31 IST
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