Saturday, Feb 25, 2006
Delhi High Court takes up Jessica Lal murder case
THE VICTIM: Jessica Lal.
|Suo motu action after public outcry over acquittal of all accused |
NEW DELHI : Without waiting for the Delhi police to file an appeal against the acquittal of all nine accused in the much talked about Jessica Lal murder case, including prime accused Siddharth Vashisht alias Manu Sharma, the Delhi High Court on Friday directed the city police to submit to it all the investigation details as well as the reasons which caused the fall of the case in the trial court here earlier this week.
Taking suo motu note of news reports blaming shoddy investigation for the failure of the prosecution case, a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Rekha Sharma directed Delhi's Police Commissioner to respond to the Court's queries within four weeks.
Earlier, the Bench directed the High Court Registry to club clippings of newspaper reports on the acquittal of the nine accused in the case and list the matter for the Court as public interest litigation.
The acquittal had led to a widespread hue and cry with a great many organisations and NGOs demanding a re-trial of the case and action against officials responsible for bungling up the case.
Directing the Delhi police to file the case details within four weeks, the Bench said it would take up the matter for further hearing on April 9.
Delhi Police Commissioner K. K. Paul on Thursday had told The Hindu that the investigating agency was yet to take a decision on going in for appeal against the acquittals by the trial court. "The decision would be taken after going through the judgment and consulting lawyers," the Police Commissioner had added.
Additional Sessions Judge S. L. Bhayana this past Tuesday had acquitted all the accused in the case saying the prosecution had failed "miserably" to sustain the grounds on which the trial was built up.
Quoting the statement of Surender Sharma, investigating officer in the case, that he had booked Manu Sharma as prime accused after he got a call from senior officers to that effect, Mr. Bhayana observed that the probe officer had tried to frame Manu Sharma in the case.
The trial judge had also pulled up the police for not being able to recover the weapon of offence and for their failure to establish an unbreakable chain of circumstances leading to the murder of the young ramp model in the presence of hundreds of guests at a restaurant.
Jessica Lal, the ramp model and part-time bartender, had been shot from point blank range at socialite Bina Ramani's crowded Tamarind Court restaurant here in the presence of a who's who of the Capital's fashion world, senior Delhi Police officers and socialites gathered to celebrate the birthday of Ms. Ramani's husband George Mehlot in the wee hours of April 30, 1999.
All the three key eyewitnesses in the case, including actor Shyan Munshi on whose complaint the case had been registered, had turned hostile after their initial testimony.
Edited by abide - 30 March 2006 at 9:28am