Clad in a floral brown kurta and black pants, the 30 year-old was escorted to a waiting car by a posse of policemen as there was a huge media presence outside the Byculla Jail.
The starlet was found guilty under IPC Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and awarded the jail term on Friday along with boyfriend, former navy officer Emlie Jerome, who was held guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the macabre killing of the 25-year-old TV professional over three years ago.
While Maria was released, Jerome (28), awarded ten years imprisonment, will have to be behind bars for seven more years. The duo had been in jail for three years as undertrials.
Jerome was also sentenced to three years imprisonment for destruction of evidence. Both the sentences would run concurrently.
Both the accused were charged by the prosecution with murder, criminal conspiracy, common intention and causing disappearance of evidence.
Maria’s counsel Sharif Sheikh had contended that she had already served three years in jail, as provided under Section 201 of IPC, and “keeping her in jail for more days would be like illegal confinement”.
Maintaining that she was not a habitual offender, Sheikh pleaded for lighter sentence considering her young age.
Absolving the couple of murder charge on Thursday, Sessions Court Judge N W Chandwani, while pronouncing the quantum of sentence yesterday, also ordered the two to together pay a fine of Rs 1.50 lakh, which is to be paid to the victim’s father.
Neeraj’s grieving father Amarnath Grover had described the sentence as an “acquittal” for Maria.
Neeraj was killed and his body hacked into several pieces and dumped in Manor forest in adjoining Thane on May 7, 2008.