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Jessica case: Hostile witnesses under scanner
December 20, 2006 12:19 IST
Last Updated: December 21, 2006 00:00 IST
The Delhi high court has hinted that it determined to see that those who tried to obstruct the justice delivery system by turning hostile during the Jessica Lal murder trial did not go unpunished.
This appeared obvious with its suo motu order issuing show cause notices to 32 witnesses including actor Shyan Munshi, who was not only an eyewitness but also the complainant in the incident that took place at a south Delhi restaurant on the midnight of April 29-30, 1999.
Munshi, Andaleeb Sehgal � also facing probe in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam -- garment exporter Parikshit Sagar, Shiv Dass Yadav, an eyewitness and electrician at Tamarind Court Cafe, Karan Rajput, also an eyewitness, had gone back from the statement before the trial court.
The court, on February 21, had acquitted all the nine accused.
Munshi, who has been dubbed as liar by the high court, was the first prosecution witness to be declared hostile after he came out with the double gun theory.
His deposition was in sharp contrast to the statement recorded by the police immediately after the crime when he had said that it was Manu Sharma who had fired two shots, one towards the ceiling and the other at the model.
Similarly, Rajput (who died during the trial) and electrician Shiv Dass Yadav, who were cited as eyewitnesses, had deviated from their earlier statement that Manu Sharma was present in the party and refused to identify him in the trial court.
Sehgal, who was a part of the gathering, refused to recognise Manu Sharma in the court despite admitting to the police after the offence that he had met him on that night of the incident.
Sagar had also taken a u-turn before the court from his earlier statement. Minocha, the ballistic expert described by the high court as not trustworthy as a witness, was declared hostile by the prosecution after he had supported the two-gun theory before the trial court, which was contrary to his own report.
In his report, he had stated that it was not possible to say whether the cartridges have been fired from two different weapons.
The high court had concluded that the two-weapon theory was a concoction by the defence that was done after manipulating the testimonies of Munshi and Minocha.
Another witness Shakar Mukhia, an employee at Manu Sharma's farmhouse at Sambhalkha in Haryana, had retracted from his statement that the accused had left the place on his black Tata Safari car, which was found abandoned at Noida after Vikas Yadav and Tony Gill took it away from the spot clandestinely.
Some persons, who were acquaintances of the other co-accused and were made witnesses in the case, were also served notices to explain for changing their stand before the trial court.
Among them are Abhijit Ghosal, Ravinder Singh Gill and Kulwinder Singh, reportedly known to another accused Yograj Singh, father of cricketer Yuvraj Singh.
These three witnesses had earlier stated that Yograj had given shelter to Manu Sharma while he was on run.Others witnesses, who have been directed to appear before the court on February 1, 2007 had in some way or the other tried to de-rail the prosecution theory.