Model Jessica Lal, Priyadarshini Mattoo’s murderers could be released soon

Santosh Singh, convicted in the 1996 rape and murder of Delhi University student Priyadarshini Mattoo is the latest name added to the list of prisoners who are being considered for an early release, a government official said.

delhi Updated: Oct 03, 2018 11:27 IST
Prawesh Lama
Prawesh Lama
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
IPS,life sentence,rape
In 1996, Santosh Singh (centre, in white shirt), son of IPS officer JP Singh, who was a joint commissioner in the Delhi police, was arrested for the rape and murder of third-year law student Priyadarshini Mattoo. (HT File Photo)

Santosh Singh, convicted in the 1996 rape and murder of Delhi University student, Priyadarshini Mattoo, is the latest name added to the list of prisoners who are being considered for an early release, a government official familiar with the development said.

The Sentence Review Board (SRB) will meet on Thursday and decide the fate of more than a hundred prisoners, including Santosh Singh, Manu Sharma and Sushil Sharma. The names of the latter two were presented to the SRB in its last meeting on June 24, when the board deferred a decision for the next hearing.

Santosh Singh has been in prison since 2006, since he was sentenced to death by the Delhi high court. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court in 2010.

Manu Sharma was convicted in 2006 for the murder of model Jessica Lall and given a life sentence. Sushil Sharma was convicted in 2006 in the Naina Sahni tandoor murder and also sentence to life imprisonment.

Last week, Delhi home minister Satyendar Jain’s office called the offices of the other six board members and informed them about the October 4 meeting.

The SRB, comprising Jain, director general (prisons) Ajay Kashyap, home secretary Manoj Parida, a Delhi police officer of the rank of joint commissioner, a district judge, law secretary Anoop K Mendirata, and a government-appointed probation officer, will meet and discuss if the prisoners should be released.

A prison officer said Santosh’s name has been included for the first time. A practising lawyer at the time of his arrest in 2006, he has a clean record in prison.

In 1996, Santosh Singh, son of IPS officer JP Singh, who was a joint commissioner in the Delhi police, was arrested for the rape and murder of third-year law student Priyadarshini Mattoo.

The 23-year-old was found dead at her house in Vasant Vihar in January 1996. The police said Singh stalked Mattoo for over two years. The two were fellow students at Delhi University.

In 1999, a city court acquitted Singh of the charges, highlighting inaction by Delhi Police. The verdict triggered protests across the country. India’s then president, KR Narayan, said that the “cathedrals of justice have become like casinos”. The police appealed the sentence in Delhi high court, which convicted him in 2006.

Confirming Singh’s inclusion in the list, a jail officer said, “As per the prison rules, we are duty-bound to include his name and send it to the SRB. His prison record in clean. He has not flouted any rule in the last 14 years.”

With most board members giving positive reviews about the prison conducts of Manu Sharma and Sushil Sharma, the board deferred the cases of the two men during the July 24 meeting. The two have also been transferred to the ‘open’ and ‘semi-open’ jail.

“It will be interesting what the board decides. Whatever they decide will be approved or denied by Delhi’s lieutenant governor. Interestingly, the Delhi HC, while hearing a PIL recently, reminded the state government about release rules. No prisoner can be kept in jail beyond 20 years. With remission, Sushil Sharma has completed 28 years, while Manu Sharma has done 20 years,” said a home department official who asked not to be named.

First Published: Oct 03, 2018 07:53 IST