In a court complex buzzing with eager onlookers and blasé lawyers, Manu Sharma sat alone on Wednesday, two constables by his side, the taut muscles on his face marking him out as a man facing judgment day.
Manu, with friends Amardeep Singh Gill and Vikas Yadav had been brought to the court by 10 in the morning to hear the high court pronounce the punishment for killing Jessica Lall. None of his family members, including father-politician Venod Sharma were with him. Vikas Yadav's father, DP Yadav, on the other hand, was present in the court throughout. The trio of friends greeted each other nervously.
As the time approached for the arguments to begin in court number 35, Manu bent down to touch his lawyer R.K. Naseem's feet. His counsel disappeared inside and Manu resumed his place between the constables, the tension now apparent on his face.
Soon, the judge asked the accused to be brought inside the courtroom. While being escorted inside by Naseem's junior, Manu flared up. He could be heard scolding his counsel for ignoring his brief — not to argue but let the court take its own decision.
Once inside, he regained his composure, flipping through a copy of the judgment as the arguments continued on the sentence. All the three accused stood on the left of the judge.
Arguments wrapped up, it was time for the sentence. As the judge read out the sentence, relief washed over Manu's face. Outside the court, Manu was congratulated by friends. "This was my fate," he told a friend before being driven away to Tihar Jail.