The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Catch them quick

Sir — More often than not, it is seen that rich and privileged criminals get past the authorities with ease because of their clout. The fact that Manu Sharma, serving life term in Tihar jail for the murder of Jessica Lal, was spotted partying after being out on parole, is not only condemnable but will also seriously affect the common people’s morale (“On parole for mom’s illness, Manu parties”, Nov 19). The law-enforcers’ indulgence towards influential people can only encourage the latter to commit more crimes. One cannot be scandalized enough by the laxity of the authorities, notwithstanding the fact that Sharma later made a voluntary return to the jail.

Ten years ago, Sharma, the son of a Haryana Congress leader, had murdered Lal when she refused to serve him drinks late at night. He was caught and put behind bars. But he was acquitted by a trial court and then tried again by a fast-track court in the face of mounting protests by various human rights groups. Sharma had been out on parole since September 22 on the ground that his mother was seriously ill. But she had recently been seen at a news conference in Chandigarh, kicking off an under-19 cricket tournament. And then Sharma was caught partying in a posh night club. The leniency shown towards men like Sharma undermines the sanctity of court orders. Such indulgences will only increase criminal activities throughout the country.

Yours faithfully,
Bonhika Roy, Ranchi

Sir — It is shameful that the chief minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, refused to apologize for her recommendation of parole for Manu Sharma, who is the son of a tycoon attached to her party, the Congress. Night crimes associated with the pub culture of the rich and famous are a blot on society. Late-night entertainments in public places should not be allowed after say, 11 pm, to prevent more deaths akin to that of Jessica Lal.

Yours faithfully,
Madhu Agrawal, Dariba, Delhi

Sir — While the Congress-led government of Delhi tries to present itself as a champion of women, the murderer of the model, Jessica Lal, is allowed to go bar-hopping when out on parole. If Manu Sharma can enjoy parole on flimsy grounds then the very purpose of awarding him a life sentence is defeated. Sharma’s presence in a night club also proves that he has learnt no lesson from his previous brawl, which resulted in Lal’s death.

Yours faithfully,
Amartya Talukdar, Calcutta

Sir — The high-profile case of the Jessica Lal murder would not have stayed in the limelight had the media not followed it as closely as they did. Manu Sharma and his rich, well-connected family tried every possible illegal means to weaken the case but could not succeed because of the public glare. Once again, Manu Sharma’s family has used its influence to get a long parole for Sharma claiming that his mother is critically ill. Usually, as per law, parole is granted for a day or two and that too only for serious reasons such as deaths in the family. Since Sheila Dikshit recommended the extension of Sharma’s parole, she is responsible for the breach of law.

Yours faithfully,
A.S. Mehta, Calcutta

Sir — In the article, “On parole for mom’s illness, Manu parties”, the criminal lawyer, Ashok Arora, is quoted as saying “Parole is not a matter of right, it’s granted under special circumstances, it’s not a holiday from jail.” In the same story, Sheila Dikshit says that Manu Sharma’s extended parole was “within the legal purview”, and asserts that “It [the parole] is his right. We will not favour anybody.” Reading these contradictory statements, we are confused. Can The Telegraph write a feature on the case containing the opinion of eminent jurists?

Yours faithfully,
Tapan Pal, Batanagar


Sir — A few days ago, while driving on the EM Bypass, I was accused of exceeding the speed limit and charged a fine of Rs 300. Though I was quite confident that my speedometer never went beyond the limit of 60 kilometres per hour, I was convicted. The traffic authorities claimed that their speed cameras installed at crossings had caught my vehicle committing the offence.

As the policemen were talking to me, a motorbike went past carrying three people, two of them without helmets. When I challenged one of the policemen about their inaction in this case, he answered with perfect nonchalance that sometimes they fail to grab law-breakers if the latter are really fast. He added that he never goes in pursuit of speeding vehicles because that may either cost him his life or he may lose the chase. “Amader ki janer maya nei? (Don’t we care for our lives?)” was the unabashed and audacious reply. I cried in vain, “These are supposed to be detained, not us.”

I was aghast on seeing that the police were letting all the speeding cars go although anyone, even without the help of any sophisticated instrument, could easily have pointed out the really fast ones. The point man said that the police need not catch all the speeding vehicles, since this is not America. I had not known till then that a developing country needs to become a developed one to eradicate the disparities in its law-enforcing procedures.

Yours faithfully,

Tathagata Ghosh, Uttarpara

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