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After Manu Sharma’s Release On ‘Good Behaviour’, Why Does It Feel Like ‘No One Killed Jessica’?

Posted: June 4, 2020

Remember the Jessica Lal murder case of 1999? The main accused, Manu Sharma is being released on the basis of ‘good behavior.’ How is this justice?

Translated from Hindi by Asefa Hafeez. The original was published on the Hindi site right here.

Inequality and injustice exist in the society in many forms. One such example is Manu Sharma, son of former Haryana minister Vinod Sharma. And the one responsible for murder of Jessica Lal.

Manu Sharma was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Delhi High Court in December 2006 as the main accused of the Jessica Lal murder case. But the drunken politics of patriarchy and privilege slowly spread its wings. The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi approved the release of Manu Sharma from jail on Tuesday, 2nd June, 2020.

What was the Jessica Lal murder case?

Talking of the terrible night of April 30, 1999, Jessica’s younger sister Sabrina, her eyes brimming with tears, says, “Jessica’s tragic death was a strong reason for the desolation of our home. We were all shattered. I remember Jessica was always very ambitious. Her only fault was that she refused to serve Manu Sharma and her friends.”

What happened that night at the Tamarind Court restaurant in Delhi was gruesome. A young woman was showered with bullets. Jessica had a loving family, and was happy in her world. Her sister, Sabrina, forgave Manu Sharma two years ago.

But it isn’t just about a prisoner being forgiven, what is the issue in ensuring that the guilty party goes till the end of his sentence? It is a shining example of an unequal society and has shaken the feminist ideology and the principle of equality.

Is ‘good’ behaviour reason enough?

The only reason for early release of Manu Sharma was ‘good behavior.’ Do they know for a sure that he won’t do it again? Can the authorities who released him, guarantee that? Never.

Is only the ‘good behavior’ the reason for the release or is it something else? Do we not realize why people from non-influential backgrounds are often left to rot in prison? They simply are unable to get the bail money to be released or even afford big shot lawyers.

The data from the Indian Prison System shows there are 68 percent prisoners in India who haven’t been convicted by any court for any offence. Many of them have to wait for years before the trial of their cases begins. The analysis of the latest reports from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that prisons in India are mostly full of young men and women. Most of whom are illiterate or semi-literate and come from lower socio-economic sections of society. More than 65 percent of the under trial prisoners belong to SC, ST and OBC categories. And most of them are also unable to bear the bail fee.

A direct consequence of this is that most poor people are imprisoned. And the time they spend in prison is often NOT determined by the crime that they are accused of committing. The other issue is that, being illiterate, they often are unaware of the legal mechanism to use to have a speedy trial or even avoid unfair detention.

Who bears the responsibility?

For example, as of November 14, 2019, there were 18,46,741 criminal cases pending in various lower courts in India, for over ten years. Add to this 2,45,657 criminal cases, pending in various High Courts for over ten years!

It would be easy to blame the police or even the judicial system for the regulations and delay in bringing about justice. But, at the end of the day, a lot of innocent people wrongfully suffer in jails for years without conviction.

And why do the rich and powerful get all the benefits, even when the crime is of extremely serious? This is a sad decision, that I personally refute. And this is a serious issue. Just how many Manu Sharmas will be borne by such decisions? And how many more Jessicas will be victimised?

Picture credits: Twitter

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