Manu Sharma is back in the news again, and like always, for all the wrong reasons! For me, Manu Sharma is a special case, as his case is a classic metaphor of the state of judiciary in our country, which is painfully slow and visibly discriminatory! It is no secret that Manu Sharma was finally convicted with life imprisonment in 2006, for a murder that he committed in 1999! It took our courts close to a decade to convict him for a heinous crime like cold blooded murder, wherein evidences were yelling against him. Not to forget that he almost managed his acquittal in 2003; and it was only after Sabrina Lal’s (Jessica’s sister) determined fight for justice, media’s persistent and systematic follow up and a huge public outcry that Sharma was finally convicted in 2006! And it has been just three years that he was found partying at a lounge bar in Delhi couple of days back. As is reported, he managed to do so as he was out on a parole, initially for a month and then further for another month, allowed by the Delhi government.
According to reports, he was granted parole as he had to attend to his ailing mother, the last rites of his grandmother and some business related work. In fact, the judiciary here has discriminated in favour of Manu on two grounds, leave aside the fact that his mother seemed to be perfectly fine as she was addressing the under-19 women’s cricket team last week. First, parole is generally granted after a convict has served a minimum of five years of his term, and that too only for attending a wedding or medical emergency or funeral, or attending to someone who is their sole responsibility – none of this applied in the case of Manu. Legally speaking, a request needs to be put through jail authorities, which then gets vetted by the legal department of the lieutenant governor; and then based on the lieutenant governor’s recommendation, parole is granted. It is usually granted for a period of one month, and under special circumstances, could be extended by another month. Going by the book, Manu was granted an out of turn parole. The second discrimination in favour of Manu was that in a country where more than 12,000 prisoners are decaying in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, only 11 of them were fortunate to get a parole this year; Manu was one of them! Manu has made it to a list where, on an average, only 17% of the total parole applications get approved in any given year! One should not forget that of the 300,000 under-trials awaiting justice, a staggering 75% have already served a term of imprisonment that is more than what they would have otherwise served if convicted of their respective crimes. Also worth mentioning is the fact that these hundreds of thousands of under-trials are awaiting justice for petty crimes. So what makes Manu so special, such that the entire administrative machinery was hell bent upon doling out undue favours after favours?
Honestly, it is indeed a big deal that Manu is behind the bars! Going by his credentials, and also going by the precedence of justice delivery, he should have been ideally moving around scot free. As I said earlier, had it not been for Sabrina Lal’s unflinching determination, systematic follow up by media and public outcry, he should have been a free man today. Starting from a business background with over Rs. 1,000 crores in assets, to a strong political legacy, Manu possesses all necessary credentials to buy justice in his favour. Everyone knows that had Manu not been convicted, Manu’s father, Venod Sharma, would have made it to the Chief Ministerial post of Haryana. He is the closest aide of the current CM, and this time he has been instrumental in getting Congress back to power in Haryana, by convincing 9 independent candidates to support the Congress. No wonder the Delhi government immediately came to Manu’s rescue, when attacked by media, on his presence in a Delhi bar during his parole (as legally he is not permitted to step out of Chandigarh during parole).
All in all, this episode has further reinforced the fact that in this country, justice is not just delayed but blatantly discriminatory in favour of the rich and influential! Not just this, it has also reinforced the fact about how the entire criminal-political machinery comes into action to favour and safeguard another criminal at the cost of millions who are endlessly waiting for justice. In 2006, if his life sentence had reinstated some faith on justice delivery within the common man, Manu Sharma’s abuse of parole has eroded it once again!