On April 29, 1999, Siddharth Vashishth alias Manu Sharma shot dead model Jessica Lall after the 34-year-old refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade in south Delhi’s Mehrauli. When Jessica was rushed to Apollo Hospital, doctors declared her brought dead on April 30.
Following a nationwide public outcry against the incident, the Delhi High Court took up the case through a fast-track trial that ended in Manu Sharma’s conviction in 2006 on murder charges.
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 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.
Jessica Lall’s mother May Lall died in 2000 awaiting justice for her daughter. 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 December 2006, the Delhi High Court 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.
Manu Sharma was convicted by the Delhi High Court in 2006 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The sentencing was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2010.
Jessica Lall’s father Ajit Kumar Lall died in 2006 and was undergoing treatment for brain haemorrhage.
Shayan Munshi, a primary prosecution witness in the Jessica murder case, and Manocha stand 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.
Munshi was granted bail by the Delhi court in 2014 and was also imposed several conditions, saying he would regularly attend the hearings and shall not influence witnesses or tamper with the records in any manner and would inform it before leaving India.
In early 2015, the murder convict Manu Sharma completed his post-graduation from Indian Institute of Human Rights after he was released on a thirty-day parole by Delhi High Court for appearing in the exams. Later on April 22, Sharma got married to a Mumbai woman whom he had known for the last 10 years but had to delay his marriage plans due to the conviction.
In 2016, Sharma was granted two weeks parole by the Delhi government to appear for his LLB course exams.
For the past six months, Sharma has been moved to an “open jail” considering his good conduct. The 41-year-old is allowed to leave the prison every day for work and return in the evening.
Sabrina Lal on April 23, 2018, said that she had forgiven her sister Jessica Lal’s killer Manu Sharma and wouldn’t object to his release from Tihar jail, where he has been serving his life term since 2006. In a letter to the welfare office of Tihar jail, Sabrina mentioned that she had no objection to the release of Siddharth Vashishta alias Manu Sharma as he had spent 15 years in prison.