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justice for Jessica
SC upholds life term for Manu
R Sedhuraman/Legal Correspondent

Manu’s Chandigarh home wears a deserted look

Chandigarh: On a day when Supreme Court upheld life-imprisonment given to Manu Sharma in Jessica Lal murder case, the family’s plush house here wore a deserted look.

After the verdict came out, a battery of mediapersons camped outside the house of the Sharmas in Sector 9 here.

However, no one from the family was present in the house, and Manu’s father Venod Sharma was in Delhi. Sources close to Manu’s father, a Congress MLA from Ambala City in Haryana, said he was in Delhi.

Venod Sharma, a former Union Minister, had spent sometime in political wilderness following the involvement of his son in the ramp model murder case.

Though he made a new beginning in 2005 winning the Ambala Assembly constituency as a Congress candidate, the Jessica Lal case led to his resignation as Haryana’s Power Minister in October 2006. — PTI

New Delhi, April 19
The Supreme Court today upheld the life sentence awarded to Manu Sharma, son of senior Congress leader Venod Sharma, in the 1999 Jessica Lal murder case, ruling that the “evidence, witnesses’ statements and convict’s conduct after the incident prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”

The apex court also confirmed the four-year jail term awarded to Vikas Yadav, son of controversial Uttar Pradesh politician DP Yadav, and Amarjeet Singh Gill, a senior-level employee of a multinational company, for destruction of evidence.

“The Delhi High Court has analysed all the evidence and arrived at the correct conclusion in the murder case,” a Bench comprising Justices P Sathasivam and Swanter Kumar held in a 230-page verdict.

Lal, a 34-year-old model, was shot dead at a socialite party in a South Delhi restaurant.

In the judgement, written by Justice Sathasivam, the Bench rejected the convicts’ plea on the delay in recording witnesses’ statements. “Delay in recording the statement of the witnesses does not necessarily discredit their testimonies. The court may rely on such testimonies if they are cogent and credible. The presence of the accused at the scene of crime was proved by the statements of the first two witnesses and five others and corroborated by three police control room calls,” the court said.

Also, no prejudice was caused to the right of the accused to fair trial and non-furnishing of a copy of one of the ballistic reports did not hamper the ends of justice.

The court had a word of advice for the media too. “Every effort should be made by the print and electronic media to ensure that the distinction between trial by media and informative media should always be maintained. Trial by media should be avoided, particularly at a stage when the suspect is entitled to the constitutional protections. Invasion of his rights is bound to be held as impermissible,” it said.

Welcoming the verdict, Sabrina Lal, sister of the slain model-cum-bartender, said it was not “impossible to convict high-profile offenders if society works together.” She was obviously referring to the verdict of the HC that had set aside the trial court acquittals.

Bina Ramani, who was running the restaurant and a key witness in the case, also hailed the apex court verdict. She said she would work towards having a strong witness protection system in place.





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