Victims’ families who took on influential accused in cases similar to ramp model Jessica Lall’s murder Monday said the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold life term for her killer has restored their faith in the judicial system.
“It is a reinforcement of faith in our criminal justice system. People did lose faith when the accused were acquitted in the lower court. But they were convicted by the high court and now by the apex court,” said Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost his two children in the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy in June 1997.
“This landmark judgment shows that however mighty the accused is, the clutches of law get him,” he added. He was pitted against a real estate baron in the Uphaar case.
The Supreme Court Monday upheld the Delhi High Court judgment sentencing Manu Sharma to life imprisonment for killing Lall in April 1999. Sharma, the son of Congress leader Venod Sharma, is lodged in Tihar jail.
He had challenged the high court judgment on his conviction and life sentence delivered in December 2006.
Neelam Katara, who fought for justice against an influential politician’s son who killed her son Nitish Katara, said: “We were expecting this judgment. It is a win of the common man.”
“We are satisfied with the judgment, but it took 11 years… this should not take so long. If this is the case in Delhi, then one can imagine what would be happening in other states. Whatever reforms are required, we should immediately implement them,” she added.
A social group fighting for justice in the Priyadarshani Mattoo case called the judgment “historic in every sense”. Mattoo, a Delhi University law student, was raped and killed by a senior police officer’s son in January 1996.
“It will set a very positive precedent for cases of similar nature in times to come. The guilt of the accused has been proved now beyond doubt,” said a representative of the group Justice for Priyadarshani.
“The verdict is the victory of the Indian judiciary as it restores the faith of the common man in the criminal justice delivery system. It reflects the neutral nature of the judiciary in spite of constant political pressure from the well-connected and powerful accused,” the representative added.