Manu Sharma Back in Jail Amidst Outrage Over Parole

Not only was parole granted to this high-profile murder convict on flimsy grounds, it was extended and violated with impunity

New Delhi
Manu Sharma Back in Jail Amidst Outrage Over Parole
Manu Sharma, the son of a prominent Congress leader Venod Sharma from Haryana, serving a life sentence for murder of model Jessica Lall, returned to Tihar Jail today on his own 12 days before his parole expired after a controversy raged over provision of parole to him and the violation of the same by him.

In a significant development that lent weight to allegations that Manu violated parole norms, Delhi police sent a letter to the Delhi government confirming his presence at a night bar in a city hotel.

With its decision to grant parole to the 32-year-old convict coming under intense criticism, the Sheila Dixit Government claimed to dodge issues saying it had sought a report from city police asking whether he violated parole norms following reports about his presence at night bars and allegedly entering into a scuffle there.

Manu came back to Tihar's Jail from Gate No: 2 and he "surrendered" at 11:30 am, Jail PRO Sunil Gupta said. His parole was due to end only on November 22. Manu was awarded life imprisonment by the Delhi High Court last year for the murder of Jessica Lall in 1999.

Police Commissioner's Son Involved in Brawl

A controversy erupted soon after it became known that Manu Sharma along with a friend Sahil Dhingra was reportedly spotted at LAP Lounge Bar last week in violation of his parole norms which prescribed him to be only in Chandigarh.

Actor Arjun Rampal, the co-owner of the bar, said Manu visited the bar as a guest of Dhingra, one of the members of the club.

Dhingra was taken into preventive custody after he and Manu Sharma allegedly entered into a fight with some people in the bar. However, Manu reportedly managed to give police a slip by exiting from the rear door of the bar.

Rampal said after the incident, the club has revoked the membership of Dhingra. "We got to see it (Manu's visit) because of the CCTV footage," the actor claimed.

Police came to the LAP bar following a complaint against Dhingra, who allegedly picked up a brawl with Pranay Dadwal, none other than the son of Delhi Police Commissioner YS Dadwal in the adjoining Ashok Hotel's F-Bar. Dhingra was accompanied by Manu to the bar.

The duo moved to the adjoining LAP bar and the police came visiting there only because of a phone call from Pranay Dhingra.  Clearly, the fact that a top police officer's son was involved ensured that the police moved with some alacrity.

"We were asked to confirm Sharma's presence and we have confirmed that. We had gone through the CCTV footage. We spotted him in the lounge. We have said this in the report," a top police officer said.

Defending the Indefensible

Chief Minister Sheila Dixit said it "is good" Manu has gone back to jail. Asked whether Manu will face any penalty for violating parole conditions, she said, "I do not know about it".

Jessica Lall's elder sister Sabrina Lall said "he (Manu) went back because he wanted to avoid any more controversy."

"What has been the most disappointing thing in the whole matter was that the parole was granted on very flimsy grounds. One has to be on the lookout on what he is up to," she added.

A top Delhi government official said Manu should not have been present in Delhi as he was given parole under the condition that he will visit Chandigarh to meet his "ailing" mother. "We have sought a detailed report from Delhi Police about whether Sharma visited the city," he said.

Manu had sought parole on grounds of attending to his "ailing mother", some business matters in Chandigarh. His parole application also mentioned that his grandmother had passed away recently.

However, while his mother, the wife of an important Haryana Congressman, held a press conference in their hotel 'Piccadily' in Chandigarh last week, Manu was reportedly spotted hanging  with his friends in the city.

Legal experts and opposition BJP trained their guns on the Delhi government alleging he was granted parole under "political pressure" -- a charge strongly denied by Sheila Dixit who said it was done under legal purview.

About 400 parole applications are received each year, of which only 100 are granted, depending on the reason given for temporary release, according to an official. However, it has been reported that the Delhi government has so far received 132 parole applications this year out of which as many as 88 are still pending, 33 were rejected and  11 applicants were granted parole.

Legal experts are clear that in this case not only were the reasons provided for parole were very flimsy, Sheila Dixit government had even extended the parole from 30 days that ended on October 22 to November 22

Melodrama in TV Studios

In another development, some media channels have been reading out excerpts from a maudlin letter Manu Sharma is supposed to have written to his mother, claiming innocence just before he surrendered in jail.

In the letter, Sharma alleged that "very powerful" media has formed a "very biased" opinion about him.

"I am really sorry that I have put you through this ordeal. Maa, I assure you I have done no wrong...I know you will not let me do what I am about to do. So I will be gone by the time you get the letter.

"Maa, I am going to surrender to the jail and I don't know when I will see you again," Sharma purportedly wrote in the letter, in which he thanked his mother for teaching him - we kid you not - "the right values".

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