Jessica Lal murder convict Manu Sharma, who was serving a life sentence, was released from Delhi’s Tihar Jail on Monday on the grounds of good behaviour, ANI reported.

Sharma, son of former Union minister Vinod Sharma, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court in December 2006 for killing Lal in 1999. The trial court had acquitted him, but the Delhi High Court had reversed the order and the Supreme Court had upheld his life sentence in 2010.

Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had approved Manu Sharma’s early release after a recommendation by the Delhi Sentence Review Board, according to PTI. The board had made the recommendation at a meeting chaired by Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain on May 11. The Delhi Sentence Review Board is a department under the Delhi government.

Sharma, who spent less than 17 years in prison, was released to prevent overcrowding in prisons amid the coronavirus pandemic. He was released along with 18 more prisoners, according to NDTV.

Lal, a model, was shot dead by Sharma after she had refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant in south Delhi’s Mehrauli area on the night of April 30, 1999.

In the last two years, Sharma had been in an open jail on account of “good conduct”. The accused was was allowed to leave the prison for work at 8 am and return by 6 pm. Lal’s sister Sabrina Lal had said in 2018 that she forgave Sharma and would not object to his release.