New Delhi, May 31: A combination of public, judicial and media activism that forced the reopening of the Jessica Lal murder case is now being replayed to uncover alleged witness manipulation to save the BMW hit-and-run accused, Sanjeev Nanda.
In a suo motu action, Delhi High Court today summoned all records of the sting operation conducted by the television channel, NDTV, showing collusion between the prosecution and defence lawyers in the 1999 incident in which six persons were mowed down.
Police removed special public prosecutor I.U. Khan and appointed Rajeev Mohan to handle the case.
Even as the matter is to come up for hearing on June 11, a trial court has directed an inquiry into the incident by a senior police officer.
Khan, who has been accused of colluding with defence lawyer R.K. Anand, a former Rajya Sabha MP and Congress member, was caught on camera saying that key witness Sunil Kulkarni was dropped at the behest of police officers.
Delhi police, however, claimed Kulkarni was dropped because he was found blackmailing and because they had failed to verify his antecedents.
A bench headed by Chief Justice A.K. Sharma directed the high court registrar-general to procure all records, including unedited footage of the sting operation, and submit the report by June 11.
“The expose shows a dangerous trend. What is caught (on camera) is very bad for the criminal justice system,” the court said.
The trial court has directed the NDTV managing editor and the reporters involved in the sting to appear before it along with the unedited version tomorrow.
The developments have prompted the police to review the investigation and allegations of witness-influencing in an incident where boys from rich families driving a luxury sedan in a drunken state killed half-a-dozen people, including three constables.
Sanjeev is the grandson of one of India’s best-known arms dealers and the former chief of navy staff, S.M. Nanda.
The role of three police officers associated with the case is also to be looked into. They are Bimlesh Yadav, the station house officer of Lodhi Colony police station, Mahadev Mehta, the assistant police commissioner of Defence Colony, and Ullas Giri, sub-inspector — all at the time of the incident.
Senior police sources claimed they had enough scientific and circumstantial evidence to nail the culprits.
“The sting operation does open a can of worms but it does not cast any aspersions on us. We have maintained throughout that Kulkarni is a blackmailer and has tried to tamper with the progress of the case for some ulterior motives,” said an officer.
The police said the probe conducted by a new special investigative team under Joy Tirkey, an assistant commissioner, will vindicate its case.