He committed one of the most infamous murders in India in recent years, shooting Jessica Lall, a celebrity barmaid and model, in cold blood because she refused him a drink at a socialite party.
But, sometimes, murder doesn’t equal jail time.
Manu Sharma, the son of an influential politician, was convicted in 2006 of murdering Lall. But it is proving hard to keep him behind bars. This week he was granted parole for a second time, despite violating the terms of his last parole, Indian media reported.
Sharma’s case has been dogged by controversy since it began. Despite the presence of many witnesses, he was first acquitted of the 1999 murder of Jessica Lall, but a national outcry forced a retrial in 2006.
The case has been widely viewed in India as a classic example of how the rich and powerful are effectively above the law.
In 2009, a court let Sharma out on an extended two-month parole to be with his sick mother and attend his grandmother’s last rites. He was later caught partying and brawling at an expensive Delhi nightclub, while his mother attended a social event in another city. After another media outcry, he chose to return to jail two weeks early.
This week Sharma was again granted parole, this time to attend the wedding of his younger brother Kartik, a hotelier who also owns a television news channel. He will get out on Nov. 21, on the condition that he stays away from bars and nightclubs, and only stays in the towns in northern India where the marriage ceremonies will take place.
“For all these years you have not reformed: you went to a nightclub and got into a brawl,” Justice VK Shali told him, before agreeing to let him out, to the shock of the victim’s family, the Hindustan Times reported.
“My sister can never come back to attend any family function, so why should her killer,” said Jessica’s sister Sabrina Lall. “We know what he did last time …. I am surprised how he manages to get parole again and again.”