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Manu seeks new Bench
I will not give in: Jethmalani
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 3
Model Jessica Lall murder case key accused Manu Sharma today made a plea through his counsel Ram Jethmalani to transfer the case from a division Bench of the Delhi High Court to another Bench if it felt that there was media pressure on it the wake of a recent report in a newspaper.

Jethmalani moved an application to this effect before a Bench of Mr Justice R. S. Sodhi and Mr Justice P K Bhasin, in which his client also sought to initiate contempt action against the newspaper.

The court issued notices on the application to the parties concerned, including the newspaper, seeking their replies by November 7.

Jethmalani said though he was under pressure from media not to appear in the case but he would continue to defend his client and would not succumb to such pressure.

Jethmalani said if the judges, specially Mr Justice Sodhi to whom the newspaper report had made certain references about his statement during the hearing of Manu’s bail application in 2002, wanted to “recuse” himself from the case, he could do so and transfer it to some other Bench.

He said such media reports amounted to casting aspersion on the court and had the potential to apprehend prejudice.

Following his submission, Mr Justice Sodhi observed that the court was aware of the newspaper report but it was not going to make any effect on it and the Bench was also not going to “succumb” to such developments.

The court told Jethmalani to continue to argue the case and it would hear the application moved by him on November 7 after the replies were filed by the parties concerned.

As Delhi police counsel Mukta Gupta said that the prosecution also want to file a reply, the court said it was up to it whether it wanted to respond to the application or not.

At the same time the court also said it knew how media was used in such sensitive cases, which had been hogging the headlines all through.

Mr Justice Sodhi clarified that the he had not made the statement attributed to him in the newspaper in the manner it was tried to be projected when the bail application had come up for hearing before him in 2002.

The high court is hearing the appeal of Delhi Police against the acquittal of Manu Sharma by the trial court in the murder of Jessica Lall. The prosecution had alleged that he shot dead the ramp motel a restaurant here in April 1999. Several of his close friends and relatives were also accused in the case for harbouring and helping him after the crime. 

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