M A I N   N E W S

Life term for Manu
Vikas Yadav, Amardeep get four-year jail
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 20
Former Haryana Minister Vinod Sharma’s son, Manu Sharma, was today given a life sentence by the Delhi High Court for killing ramp model Jessica Lall at a crowded restaurant here with his licenced pistol seven years ago, rejecting the Delhi police plea for showing no leniency to him in awarding the maximum punishment of death.

Amardeep Singh Gill Vikas Yadav
Amardeep Singh Gill (left) and Vikas Yadav come out from the Delhi High Court after they were sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. — Photos by Mukesh Aggarwal

A Bench of Mr Justice R.S. Sodhi and Mr Justice P.K. Bhasin also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on him for committing the heinous crime, which will be paid to the family of Jessica and separate sentences of four years each under the Arms Act and for criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence. Besides, a fine of Rs 4,000 for the two substantive offences was imposed on him.

The court said if he failed to pay the fine of Rs 50,000, his sentence would be extended by another three years and in case of not paying the fine for the other two offences, the four years sentence in each case will be extended for another three months. All the sentences, however, would run concurrently, the court said.

He was found guilty of shooting down Jessica at socialite Bina Ramani’s ‘Tamarind Court’ restaurant near Qutab Minar here on the night of April 29, 1999 for refusing to serve him liquor as a bartender at the fag end of a party there.

The two co-accused and Manu’s close friends — Vikas Yadav and Amardeep Singh Gill — were sentenced to four years’ imprisonment with a fine of Rs 2,000 each for helping Manu in destroying the evidence and participating in the criminal conspiracy with him.

The court though in agreement with Delhi police counsel Mukta Gupta that the crime committed by Manu was the one that “shocked society in the criminal delivery system”, said the material brought before it did not make a case for a harsher punishment. In its opinion “Manu would not continue to commit acts of violence that would constitute a threat to society” for not being a habitual offender.

“There is also nothing on record to suggest that there is no probability that the convict can (not) be reformed or rehabilitated,” the court said.

“We feel justice would be satisfied if we award the sentence of imprisonment for life to Manu Shamra,” said the Bench, which had convicted them on December 18.

Resigning to his fate, Manu who looked tense during the hour-long proceedings was heard commenting to his friends “this was my fate… this was my destiny” after the order of sentence was pronounced.

However, his counsel, RK Naseem, said an appeal would be filed in the Supreme Court against the judgement. He said the High Court had “wrongly” accepted Bina Ramani as an eyewitness.

The court rejected the bail plea of Gill, who was taken into custody after the December 18 pronouncement, while Manu had surrendered later to authorities. Vikas Yadav, son of former Rajya Sabha MP D P Yadav, is already in judicial custody in another sensational murder of a company executive, Nitish Katara.

As today’s proceedings started, the three escorted by police initially remained seated outside the court room surrounded by relatives and friends, but when the Bench demanded production of the convicts, they were taken inside. Soon after the sentence, the police whisked them away to the high security Tihar Jail.

While Delhi police counsel argued that no leniency be shown to Manu in awarding the maximum punishment for unprovoked killing of an innocent woman, and making every effort to interfere with justice delivery system, his lawyer said the case did not fall in the “rarest of rare” category warranting extreme punishment.



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