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Jessica murder case: Convict moves HC for premature release

Jessica murder case: Convict moves HC for premature release

New Delhi: A month after the Delhi high court ordered the forthwith release of former Youth Congress leader Sushil Kumar Sharma, who had served over 23 years in prison for the murder of his wife Naina Sahni in 1995, the convict in the Jessica Lal murder case has moved the court, seeking the same relief.

The high court had, on December 21 last year, ordered Sushil Sharma's premature release after quashing the recommendations of the Sentence Review Board (SRB), which had rejected his plea to be set free after over two decades of incarceration. Seeking a similar relief, Siddhartha Vashishta, also known as Manu Sharma, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of model Jessica Lal in 1999, has moved the high court. The matter is likely to be heard on Monday by Justice Najmi Waziri.

Manu Sharma (43), in his plea filed through advocate Amit Sahni, has sought setting aside of the October 4, 2018 SRB recommendation, rejecting his plea, as well as the December 7, 2018 order of the Delhi government, upholding the board's view. The convict has contended that the reports received from several authorities, including the prison, police and social welfare department of the Delhi government, have recommended his premature release from prison.

According to Manu Sharma's petition, he has served 15 years in jail without remission and over 20 years with remission and therefore, he is eligible for grant of premature release. Remission is part of a sentence, which is granted to an accused after assessing his behaviour and conduct during his stay in jail and the period of interim bail or parole or furlough. A remission is added to the sentence undergone by a prisoner in jail.

The petition also contends that the high court had, in a PIL on August 3 last year, directed the SRB to strictly act according to its July 16, 2004 order, which had laid down the eligibility criteria for the premature release of a prisoner. Manu Sharma has claimed that he satisfied the eligibility conditions laid down in the said order, but the board, on October 4 last, had declined to grant him the relief "without giving any cogent reasons", despite several reports favouring his plea for release.

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