Siddhartha Vashist, alias Manu Sharma, serving life term for killing model Jessica Lall, today moved Delhi High Court seeking a direction to Tihar Jail authority to decide his plea for three weeks' furlough (leave of absence) which has been pending for several months.
Issuing a notice to the city government, Justice VK Shali sought a response by September 17 on Sharma's plea seeking the order to the Director General (Prison) to decide his application for furlough in accordance with the government's parole/furlough guidelines.
Sharma, son of former minister Venod Sharma, said he has applied for three weeks leave in December 2010 as he is eligible for furlough in accordance with the guidelines which were framed by the government following the High Court's order on a PIL in 2009.
He claimed he was given certification of excellence for his contribution in modernisation of jail factory and also reports filed by the Chandigarh District Magistrate and also Delhi police in his favour but the jail authority has not decided his plea for furlough.
"The delay in deciding the matter has caused irreparable damage to the petitioner even after being his being fully eligible for grant of furlough. His application stands pending and he is being deprived of his rights ensured by law and the Constitution of India," the petition said.
"As per the guidelines, the jail authority should dispose of furlough cases within 14 days...Aggrieved by the extra-ordinary delay of 19 months in deciding his furlough application and the discriminatory and unlawful treatment meted out to the petitioner by prison department, the petitioner has no other remedy available to him but the seek redressal of his grievance," the petition also said.
Sharma said that according to government's parole/furlough guidelines, a prisoner, who is sentenced to five years or more rigorous imprisonment but has undergone three years imprisonment excluding remission, can be released on furlough.
Sharma was awarded life imprisonment by the Delhi High Court in December 2006 for shooting to death Jessica at Tamarind Court Cafe restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade in South Delhi during a late night party in 1999.
The life term was upheld by the Supreme Court in April 2010.
In November last year, Sharma was granted five days parole to attend his younger brother's marriage by the Delhi High Court on the condition that he will not visit night clubs or discotheques during the period.
The police had objected to Sharma's plea for parole, saying his past conduct does not entitle him to the relief as he was found indulging in brawl in a discotheque when he was out on parole in 2009.
He was given a 30-day parole to attend to his ailing mother and perform rituals following the death of his grandmother in September 2009.
But the basis for the parole was proved unfounded as Sharma's grandmother died in 2008.
During the second extension of the parole for another 30 days, Sharma was seen partying in a discotheque here. His mother, whose illness was also the basis for the parole, was seen at a media briefing promoting a ladies cricket tournament at Piccadilly -the family-run hotel in Chandigarh.