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HC seeks Delhi govt's response on Jessica murder convict's plea seeking premature release

ANI | Updated: Feb 20, 2020 16:24 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb 20 (ANI): Delhi High Court on Thursday asked Delhi government to file its reply on a petition filed by Siddharth Vashishatha, also known as Manu Sharma, who is serving a life term for murdering Jessica Lal in South Delhi's Mehrauli in April 1999, seeking premature release from Tihar Jail.
Justice Brijesh Sethi issued a notice to the Delhi government and listed the matter for March 30.
The court also asked the government to submit its response with the entire original record, reports of all departments regarding the conduct of the petitioner, which were considered by the Sentence Review Board (SRB) for considering the release.
Sharma has sought to set aside a Delhi Government order dated September 19, 2019, accepting the recommendations of SRB dated July 19, 2019 (qua the petitioner) and for issuing an appropriate direction to release of the petitioner, as the respondent rejected the case in an unfair, arbitrary and whimsical manner.
In a petition filed through advocate Amit Sahni, Sharma told the court that he has spent more than 23 years in jail with remission.
"At the time of the offence (in 1999), the Petitioner was 24-years-old and has spent most of his adult life in jail. The petitioner has a wife and old aged parents who are well above 70 years of age. During his incarceration, he has tried to make amends and do penance by diligently working in the jail and for other jail inmates," the plea said.
"Over the last 20 years the petitioner has worked in the jail factory, horticulture, and education division and the same has been appreciated by way of certificates and letters of commendation by successive Superintendents, DIG (prisons) and DG (prisons) on numerous occasions. The petitioner has had an unblemished record throughout incarceration and there has been nothing adverse against him," it added.
The petitioner said that his reformative actions and efforts for helping children of jail inmates have been appreciated by the Governor of Delhi as well as the Division Bench of High Court of Delhi.
The petitioner said that after completing his sentence and conducting himself in the most disciplined manner throughout his incarceration and keeping a positive attitude towards reform and preforming all works and tasks assigned to him, the petitioner now finds himself in a position where even after fulfilling all the parameters as per the prevalent policy/order the release of the petitioner has been rejected on four separate occasions in an unfair and unlawful manner.
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. (ANI)