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Review board to decide on the release of high-profile Tihar Jail convicts including Manu Sharma

The seven-member Sentence Review Board of the Delhi government is likely to meet on May 24, and decide on release of Manu Sharma, Santosh Singh among others.

delhi Updated: May 14, 2019 07:49 IST
Prawesh Lama
Prawesh Lama
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Lok Sabha,elections,SRB
The Delhi High Court, on January 21, asked the SRB to consider Manu Sharma’s plea for early release on grounds of good conduct and having completed the mandatory 14-year jail term. (HT Photo)

On May 24, the morning after the Lok Sabha election results are announced and the model code of conduct ceases to exist, the seven-member Sentence Review Board (SRB) of the Delhi government is likely to meet to decide on the release of over 200 prisoners, including Manu Sharma, convicted of the murder of Jessica Lal, and Santosh Singh, convicted in the Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case.

A Delhi government home department official said that last week, the state home minister’s officer informed the six other board members about the meeting on May 24.

“The code of conduct will end on the night of May 23. At around 11am on May 24, the seven members will meet and decide on the release of the prisoners. The meeting will be held at the Delhi secretariat, which houses the offices of the chief minister and his council of ministers,” said the home department official who asked not to be named.

A spokesperson at Tihar prisons, too, confirmed that they have received a communication from the Delhi home department about the May 24 meeting.

The sentence review board comprises the state home minister as it chairman, the prison’s director general, state home secretary, state law secretary, a district judge, the government’s chief probationary officer and a joint commissioner-rank officer of the Delhi Police. The Delhi High Court, on January 21, asked the SRB to consider Manu Sharma’s plea for early release on grounds of good conduct and having completed the mandatory 14-year jail term. Sharma had approached court after the board rejected his release last October.

Sharma filed his plea a month after the Delhi high court ordered the release of former Delhi Youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma, convicted for his wife’s murder in the Tandoor murder case. Sushil, who had spent over 23 years in prison, had approached the high court when the SRB rejected his plea.

A home department official, privy to the details of the previous board meetings said, “Manu Sharma’s case will be taken up after the high court order. Delhi Police have, in their report, mentioned Sharma is not a threat to the society if released. The jail has also mentioned his conduct as good. His NGO’s works have made his case stronger.”

Siddharth Vashishta, 42, better known by his alias Manu Sharma, was transferred to the prison’s open jail last year. Prisoners who have a clean record in jail and have completed over 14 years are eligible for transfer to open jail.

Santosh Singh, convicted in the rape and murder of Delhi University student Priyadarshini Mattoo, has been in prison since 2006, after he was sentenced to death by the Delhi high court. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court in 2010.

Delhi home minister Satyendar Jain was not available for any comment despite calls and text messages. No official from Manu Sharma’s NGO, Siddhartha Vashishta Charitable Trust, was available for a response.

First Published: May 14, 2019 05:25 IST