Sabrina Lall's "forgiveness" notwithstanding, Manu Sharma has a lot of distance to cover before he can walk free. Sharma, alias Siddharth Vashishta, is serving a life term at Delhi's Tihar Jail for killing Jessica Lall, a model, on April 29, 1999.
Jessica Lall was shot by Manu Sharma, son of former Congress leader Venod Sharma when she refused to serve him a drink past midnight.
Twelve years after Sharma was sentenced, Jessica Lall's sister Sabrina Lall wrote a letter to the jail authorities month back saying she "forgives him" and wouldn't object to his release.
How much of Sabrina's pardon really matters is up for debate. It's actually Anil Baijal, Delhi's lieutenant governor who is the final authority who will decide Sharma's fate.
According to a senior prison department officer, first, the sentence review board (SRB) will examine the case of Manu Sharma and look into his behaviour in jail, his police, and social welfare reports.
If SRB approves his release, then a report will be sent to the LG who is the final authority to take a call on his release.
However, sources added that Sabrina Lall's letter will help Sharma's case and she is the one who lost her sister and fought for justice.
Speaking to India Today TV, Sabrina Lall said, "I am a Christian I believe in forgiveness. My mom would have forgiven him in 1999 if Manu would have asked for forgiveness himself."
Sharma is serving time in an "open" jail where he can leave every morning for work and come back in the evening.
In India, the President and state governors can grant pardon to prisoners. Letters from civil society or from relatives act as pressure points.