Manu Sharma, who was found guilty of murdering model Jessica Lal in 1999, was released from Tihar Jail on Tuesday after serving more than 16 years in prison.
Sharma was released before his prison term ended after Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor and the Sentence Review Board (SRB) approved it.
“Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had approved the name of Siddharth Vashishth also known as Manu Sharma for release from Tihar Jail, in a sentence review board meeting held on May 11,” Advocate Amit Sahni told ANI.
Earlier, Delhi High Court had also asked the SRB to consider his name for release.
Sharma, the son of former Congress leader Venod Sharma, was convicted for shooting and murdering Jessica Lal, when she refused to serve him liquor at Tamarind Court restaurant at Qutub Colonnade in south Delhi’s Mehrauli on April 29, 1999.
Vashishth, 45-years-old, was serving a life term in connection with a case registered under Section 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of the offense or giving false information to screen offender) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
According to officials, the convict has undergone imprisonment for 16 years, 11 months and 24 days in actual, and 23 years 4 months and 22 days with remission. He has availed parole 12 times and furlough 24 times.
Meanwhile, women’s rights activists called the decision to prematurely release Jessica Lal murder case convict Manu Sharma “unfortunate”, 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.” Women rights activist Shamina Shafiq said the decision to release Sharma is “shocking and bizarre”.
Sabrina Lal, Jessica’s sister, who fought a long legal battle to bring her sister’s killer to justice, plans to start a foundation in the memory of her sister and help women in similar situations get justice. Sabrina further said that she has forgiven her sister’s killer, as he walked out of jail, and hopes that he is a reformed person now.