|New Delhi, December 20:
The Delhi High Court today sentenced Manu Sharma, son of former Haryana Minister Venod Sharma, to life imprisonment, seven years after he shot Jessica Lall at a midnight party for refusing to serve him liquor.
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“The murder though intentional was committed without premeditation. We feel justice would be satisfied if we award the sentence of imprisonment for life to Sidhartha Vashisht alias Manu Sharma,” a bench comprising Justice R S Sodhi and Justice P K Bhasin said in a packed courtroom.
The court which on Monday convicted Manu Sharma for murder, however, differed with the prosecution on the point that Sharma cannot be reformed or that he would continue to be a threat to society.
“There is nothing on record to suggest that there is no probability that the convict can be reformed or rehabilitated. Also, it cannot be said that there is material to suggest probability that the convict (Sharma) would continue to commit acts of violence that would constitute a threat to the society,” the bench observed.
The court also slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 on Sharma to be paid to Lall’s family. He shall undergo further imprisonment for three years if he defaults on the payment.
Sharma was also sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000 under the Arms Act and another four years and Rs 2,000 fine for criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence. All sentences will run concurrently.
Two other convicts, Vikas Yadav, son of UP strongman D P Yadav and ex-Coca-Cola general manager Amardeep Singh Gill, who were found guilty of criminal conspiracy and destruction evidence, were sentenced to four years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000 each. The trial court had acquitted all accused.
The High Court order today followed an hour-long round of arguments kicked off by the prosecution submitting that Sharma’s act was unprovoked and reflected a total disregard for human life.
“The convict (Sharma) was intoxicated with power. Further, each step taken by him after the commission of the crime was an interference with the justice mechanism,” Delhi Police standing counsel Mukta Gupta argued. She pointed out that Sharma had shown no signs of remorse and had fled the spot instead of taking the “helpless and innocent” victim to the hospital.
“His conduct was abominable,” Gupta submitted.
In the reply to the arguments, Manu’s counsel R K Naseem said that the crime was a “single act” and Sharma was not a habitual offender or a menace to society. Emphasis ought to be given on reforming a criminal rather than ‘eliminating’ him,” said Naseem, seeking leniency for Manu.
On Yadav, the prosecution opposed the defence’s plea that he was a well-educated 28-year-old man who had “merely entered the threshold of his life” saying that the convict had allegedly committed “another act of kidnapping and murder” while he was on bail in the present case. The convict was not even fit for parole, it added.
Argument on behalf of 41-year-old Singh Gill that he had no knowledge that “removing the vehicle from the crime spot amounted to destruction of evidence” was cut short by the Prosecution, which said that “being a well-educated man neither did the convict stop Sharma from committing the crime nor did he stop to help Jessica to the hospital.”
“Knowing that a grave offence had been committed he continued to commit an act by which he intended to shield the guilty and remove the evidence,” the court remarked accepting the police’s arguments on Gill’s role in the case.
In a relief for Yadav, the Judges agreed to consider the time spent by him in prison during the entire trial of the case.
Moments after he was handed down life imprisonment, Manu Sharma appeared resigned to his fate. While his counsel were busy completing the procedural formalities, he was being taken to the gallery outside the court-room by the police personnel, where he said, “Mere bhagya mein yehi tha, taqdeer ka faisla (this was in my fate. This was what was destined).”
His counsel Naseem said he would appeal. “We are going to file an appeal. Bina Ramani has wrongly been held as an eyewitness. She was not presented as an eyewitness even by the investigating officer Surinder Sharma before the trial court,” he said.
Sabrina Lall, Jessica’s sister
who all this while had maintained that she never wanted death penalty for
Manu Sharma, was “extremely happy.” “I feel a man like him should realise
that nobody is above law. Giving him death would mean more of a punishment
for his parents and family,” said an overwhelmed sister whose wait for
seeing the killers of Jessica behind bars came to an end.
20. Dec, 2006.
Sharma, who surrendered after his conviction on Monday, was present in the jam-packed courtroom when a Bench comprising Justice R S Sodhi and Justice P K Bhasin pronounced life imprisonment for him.
The Bench also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on Sharma, son of former Haryana Minister Vinod Sharma.
The other two convicts --
Vikas Yadav, son of controversial Uttar Pradesh politician D P Yadav, and
Amardeep Singh Gill alias Tony, an executive with MNC, were sentenced to
four years imprisonment with a fine of Rs 3000 each for conspiring to destroy
Earlier on Wednesday, Manu had sought lenient punishment before the HC, saying the crime did not warrant death sentence as it did not fall in the category of rarest of rare cases.
Manu Sharma's lawyer R K Nasseem had submitted before a Bench comprising Justice R S Sodhi and Justice P K Bhasin that the offence was not pre-planned and he was a first time offender.
Citing Supreme Court and High Courts judgment, he said the case did not fall in the rarest of rare category.
"There is no such proof that the convict is habitual killer and that he is not incorrigible," he said during the arguments on quantum of sentence.
Manu was convicted on Monday for murdering Jessica at a south Delhi restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani on April 29-30, 1999.
NEW DELHI: Amardeep Singh Gill, convicted for conspiracy and destruction of evidence in the 1999 murder of ramp model Jessica Lall, has resigned from Georgia Coffee, a beverage subsidiary of Coca-Cola Company.
According to company sources, Gill, who was working as a middle level executive with the company, resigned over the weekend, apprehending a negative verdict by the Delhi High Court.
The company had made it clear to him that he would have to go in case he was convicted by the court.
Gill, 41, is a close friend of Manu Sharma found guilty of murdering Lall, was on Monday held guilty under the Indian Penal Code for destroying evidence in the case.
A resident of Gurgaon, he has submitted an application in court seeking bail.
In his application he has mentioned that he has two small children and old parents to take care of.
He also said that there was
no other criminal case pending against him and that he had never absconded
from the trial.
A Bench comprising Justice R S Sodhi and Justice P K Bhasin issued show cause notices to 29 witnesses, who had turned hostile during the trial of the case.
They have been directed to appear before the court on February 1
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