The Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered prosecution of Bollywood actor Shayan Munshi and ballistic expert PS Manocha under charges of perjury for turning hostile in the Jessica Lal murder trial. The court had suo motu taken cognizance of the matter and sought to prosecute 19 witnesses who turned hostile on charges of perjury, and had asked the prosecution how so many of its witnesses changed their stance in trial.
The high court today exonerated 17 other witnesses, who turned hostile during the course of the trial, of charges of perjury. Model Jessica Lal was shot dead at Tamarind Court, a restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani, in south Delhi’s Mehrauli area on the night of 29-30 April, 1999. Lall was shot dead by Manu Sharma, son of Haryana Congress leader Venod Sharma after she refused to serve a drink to him in the party.
The high court had awarded life imprisonment to Manu Sharma for killing the model. Actor Munshi had lodged the FIR in the case. In April 2010, the Supreme Court while upholding the high court’s order in Jessica Lall’s murder case had also endorsed its findings on the issue of perjury.
Munshi, the complainant in the case, had pleaded to the court not to prosecute him and said that he cannot be termed hostile as even the Supreme Court had used part of his deposition in convicting the accused. Munshi had disowned the complaint during the trial, saying he “did not know Hindi”.
Socialite Andleeb Sehgal, ballistic experts Roop Singh and Prem Sagar, electrician Shiv Shankar Dass and eyewitness Jagannath Jha are among 19 persons who had come under the court’s scrutiny. The prosecution had told the high court to refer 19 out of the 31 hostile witnesses, including Munshi, to the magisterial court for their trial on charges of perjury.
Of the total 31 witnesses, only 19 were available for trial as three had died while the court had itself discharged 10 of them earlier on the ground that there was no major deviation between their statements to the police and later to the court, the prosecution had said. (FPI)