Both are murder convicts serving life sentences in Tihar jail. They also share the last name — Sharma. And that’s where the similarity ends.
While Manu Sharma, convicted in the Jessica Lall murder case, is in the news for all the wrong reasons, former police officer R.K. Sharma, serving a life sentence in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case, is winning praise.
The suspended IPS (Indian Police Service) officer’s initiative to secure telephone facilities for prisoners has borne fruit. Till now, the facility was available only to inmates of foreign origin.
The Delhi government and jail authorities on Wednesday told Delhi High Court that they have decided to provide the facility to inmates and that the required modalities were being worked out.
Sharma had handed over a letter in this regard to a judge who visited Tihar jail on July 11. The letter was referred to Chief Justice of Delhi High Court A.P. Shah, who converted it into a public interest litigation and asked Delhi government and Tihar jail authorities to consider the request.
“Due to seclusion in jail, many prisoners suffer from depression and various mental disorders. Permission to speak with family members on telephone and installation of booths in jail can help reduce unnecessary stress,” Sharma had said in the letter.
Repeated pleas to jail authorities had been shot down on grounds of security, Sharma had said in the letter.
Delhi Police counsel Meera Bhatia and Tihar jail Law Officer Sunil Gupta told the court that as per the draft plan, first-time offenders will be allowed one call a week from telephones in their ward.
Other prisoners will be allowed one call a fortnight.
Sharma and three others were convicted for the murder of Indian Express journalist Shivani Bhatnagar at her flat in East Delhi on January 23, 1999. They were handed life sentence by a lower court on March 24, 2008.