M A I N   N E W S

Delhi Police files appeal in HC
Jessica Lall murder case
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 13
The Delhi Police under fire from all quarters for its “shoddy” investigation in the Jessica Lall murder case, finally filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court today, claiming that the trial judge had “ignored” vital circumstantial evidence, which was sufficient to convict main accused Manu Sharma and eight of his relatives and friends.

In its voluminous appeal, the police had raised 44 grounds to challenge the judgement of Additional Sessions Judge S L Bhayana, who has since been promoted as a High Court Judge.

The acquittal was a “grave error” on the part of the trial court which had failed to take into account the circumstantial evidence and reasons for rejecting the same were based more on “conjectures and surmises” rather than “correct” analyses, the police alleged.

The appeal comes three weeks after the trial court had acquitted Haryana Minister Venod Sharma’s son Manu Sharma, former Rajya Sabha MP D P Yadav’s son Vikas Yadav and seven others, who allegedly had harboured Manu after he had shot dead upcoming model Jessica Lall at a South Delhi restaurant of socialite Bina Ramani on the night of April 30, 1999.

Others acquitted were Amardeep Singh Gill, alias Tony, Aloke Khanna (both senior officials in a leading soft drink company), Shyam Sunder Sharma (relative of former President

Shankar Dayal Sharma), Harvinder Chopra, Vikas Gill, Raja Chopra and former Indian cricketer Yograj Singh.

Two others, Ravinder Krishan Sudan, alias Titu, and Dhanraj, were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.

The main grounds raised in the appeal include over-emphasis of trial court on the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) report on two empty cartridges, which the police claimed was “negated” by the medical report.

The police claimed that as per the medical report, the wound caused in Jessica’s head was a result of a .22 bore bullet and confirmed the theory of being fired from Manu’s gun as a .22 bore live cartridge was recovered from his car.

Moreover, he had a licenced gun in which only a .22 bullet was used. In such circumstances, non-recovery of the weapon used in the crime was not so important as not to accept the prosecution theory, it said.

The other important “lapse” attributed to the trial court was rejection of the evidence of Deepak Bhojwani, a South Africa-based businessman who had stated that he saw Manu Sharma firing at Jessica.

The evidence of Bhojwani was rejected on the ground that his name was not in the guest list. The police said a non-guest was allowed to attend the party by purchasing coupons, and therefore, it was not a solid reason to reject his evidence.

In view of the circumstantial evidence, it was not proper for the trial judge to rely solely on the statement of “key witnesses”, who had turned hostile and let the accuse off.

It pointed out that the Supreme Court in its various judgements had clearly laid down that if there was strong circumstantial evidence against the accused in a case, he could be convicted on the basis of that evidence, even if eyewitnesses had retracted from their statements.

In his judgement, the trial judge had put the onus on the Delhi Police for its “shoddy” investigation, concluding that the prosecution had “miserably failed to prove the case beyond any reasonable doubt against any of the accused.

He had said that all vital links in the chain of events produced by the prosecution were missing. The appeal is likely to be listed for hearing soon.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |