Mockery of justice

The grant of parole to Manu Sharma, convicted and serving life term in Delhi’s Tihar jail for the murder of model Jessica Lall, and his misuse of the facility show how well-intentioned legal provisions are subverted by the high and mighty. Parole is granted to prisoners in order to give them a feel of the normal life outside the jail, which might help to reform them, or in situations of extreme personal exigency. In Manu Sharma’s case both the general purpose and the specific reasons were proved wrong. During the parole period he was involved in a brawl in a night club in Delhi, thus confirming his criminal and wayward ways. The three reasons given for parole were either wrong or unacceptable. The first was to attend a religious ceremony in memory of his late grandmother. This was not a sound ground for parole. The second was to visit his ailing mother. This was a lie as his mother was hale and hearty. The third was to attend to his business. This was ridiculous. Why should a murder convict be set free to look after his business?

It is clear that parole was granted to Sharma on extraneous considerations. The Delhi government took special interest in the matter, probably because Manu Sharma’s father, Venod Sharma, is an influential Congress politician in Chandigarh. The Delhi police had rejected the request for parole as the grounds were not genuine but the government sought a second report from the Chandigarh police  for obvious reasons. Though Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit claims that all ‘rules were followed’ in the case, it is obvious that pressure was put on the administration to grant parole in an undeserving case. This is also clear from the fact that parole was granted to Sharma in six days and extended for one month after the original one-month period, while many prisoners wait for months to get it. Many who deserve parole do not even get it.

The mockery of justice and the wanton violation of the jail manual cannot be missed. It confirms the impression that the rich, powerful and well-connected people are above the law. Sharma is back in jail now but the incident has again posed questions about the integrity of the system of justice.

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