New Delhi, March 13: Under fire for the wholesale acquittal of the accused in the Jessica Lal murder, police today went to court pleading that the evidence furnished by it had not received due consideration from the judge.
Three weeks ago, additional sessions judge S.L. Bhayana had acquitted Manu Sharma, the son of a Haryana minister, and the eight other accused for lack of evidence.
Jessica, a model, was working as a celebrity barmaid when she was shot for allegedly refusing to serve liquor around 2 am to a guest at Tamarind Court, a restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani, on April 30, 1999.
In the FIR, Sharma’s name was mentioned as the man who shot her. Shayan Munshi, a model, who was a witness, had signed the FIR written in Hindi, but retracted later saying he could not read the language. He also did not identify Sharma in court. Several other witnesses turned hostile.
Delhi police are now questioning why the court accepted the defence’s arguments in some cases while rejecting those of the prosecution.
The police say in the appeal that Munshi studied Hindi up to Class VII and has acted in Hindi films, questioning his contention that he cannot read the language.
Citing such examples, the police argue the accused were acquitted on the basis of “mere conjectures, surmises and improper application of mind”.
Jessica’s sister Sabrina said: “This is what we have all been waiting for. It now depends on what the high court has to say. Let us see.”
Legal experts say it is unlikely the court will order retrial but could call for additional evidence.
In its 44-page appeal, the police argue:
The judge accepted the defence case that Jessica was killed by two bullets fired from separate guns, based on forensic reports, rather than the prosecution theory that one bullet hit her and another the ceiling and both were fired from a .22 pistol
The court did not insist that Sharma produce his .22 bore licensed pistol
Medical and post-mortem reports had confirmed Jessica’s death by a .22 bullet
Records of phone conversations among the accused were produced, but the court disregarded these
Statements by prosecution witnesses Bina Ramani and Deepak Bhojwani confirming the presence of Sharma at the venue and their matching descriptions of his attire were ignored, but Munshi’s version was accepted
The prosecution produced copies of the FIR to prove the black Safari allegedly used in the offence was seized from Noida, but the court heeded the defence plea that the vehicle was recovered from Karnal to implicate the accused
Sharma’s farmhouse was raided four times and co-accused Vikas Yadav had applied for anticipatory bail, clearly indicating that they were absconding after the offence.