New Delhi: The Delhi High Court directed the jail authorities on Monday to decide within a week the plea of Jessica Lal murder convict Manu Sharma, who has spent about 17 years in jail, seeking eight weeks parole to look after family needs.
Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar was informed by the counsel for Sharma that his plea seeking parole is pending with the authorities for nearly nine months whereas they are required to decide it within four weeks. "The jail authorities are directed to dispose of the parole plea of the petitioner (Sharma) within a week," the court said.
Senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog and lawyer Amit Sahni, appearing for Sharma, submitted that he be released on parole for eight weeks for continuity of social ties and to look after family ties They said the plea is pending before the jail authorities for nearly nine months and they are not deciding it and he is challenging the inordinate delay.
Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra said Sharma should first wait for the decision of jail authorities on his plea and thereafter, approach high court, if required. He said Sharma is already in an open jail which means that from morning till sunset, he goes to his work outside the boundaries of jail.
To this, the judge said, "but he can't be roaming around during this period." Sharma has been in confinement for more than 16 years and 6 months in jail and over 22 years and 8 months, including the remission, earned by him on account of good conduct and work done by him in prison.
His counsel said as per the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, a convict can avail parole for a maximum of eight weeks in two spells in a conviction year. As Sharma has not availed any parole this year, he is entitled to eight weeks, he said, adding that if the parole is not granted timely, it will lapse at the end of the year.
Sharma's another plea seeking pre-mature release is also pending in the high court which had earlier sought response of Delhi government on it. In that petition, he has challenged the July 19 decision of Sentence Review Board (SRB) rejecting his case for release.
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.