Jessica Lal murder convict Manu Sharma, who has spent about 17 years in jail, has sought premature release and the Delhi High Court Friday asked the Delhi government to respond to his plea.
A bench of Justices Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked the Delhi government to file its reply on the petition in which Sharma has challenged the July 19 decision of the Sentence Review Board (SRB) rejecting his case for release.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on December 16.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Sharma, sought his release while relying on the high court’s judgement by which Tandoor murder case convict Sushil Sharma was granted premature release.
“The petitioner qualifies all the requisite parameters as stipulated in minutes of meetings of SRB. Further incarceration of the petitioner after completion of maximum prescribed period, that is, 20 years (including remission), in absence of cogent and compelling reasons, is unlawful and without legal justification,” said the plea, filed through advocate Amit Sahni.
“The recommendations dated July 19, 2019 of SRB rejecting the case of petitioner for pre-mature release is contrary to law and not based on facts and is liable to be set aside,” it said.
Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra said for the last three years, Sharma was in semi-open jail and now he is in open jail. He said it has been held by the Supreme Court that life imprisonment means till natural life.
Sharma said in his plea that the SRB has rejected the plea in an arbitrary and impartial manner and even earlier also, the authorities have rejected his plea on three occasions.
Sharma, son of former Union minister Venod Sharma, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by the high court in December 2006 for killing Jessica Lal in 1999.
The trial court had acquitted him, but the Delhi High Court had reversed the order and the Supreme Court had upheld his life sentence in April, 2010.
Lal was shot dead by Manu Sharma after she had 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, 1999.