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'False' witnesses planted in Jessia Lal case
February 26, 2006 00:07 IST
Police had planted three 'false' witnesses in the Jessica Lal murder case, in which all the nine accused were acquitted by the Delhi trial court for want of sufficient evidence linking them to the crime, Additional Sessions Judge S L Bhayana had said in his judgment.
In his 179-page judgment, Judge Bhayana said Deepak Bhojwani, George Mailhot (Canadian husband of socialite Bina Ramani, the owner of the restaurant where the murder took place) and Delhi Home Guard Sharwan Kumar were 'deliberately introduced' by the police.
The court specifically pointed out that Kumar was given an out-of-turn promotion as a special case although he was not eligible for the same.
"...he has been given this temptation so that he may give false evidence in this case," the court said.
Bhojwani and Kumar had also made 'improvements' in their statements before the court, making their testimonies neither reliable nor trustworthy, the judge said.
According to the guest list submitted by Mailhot before the court of the names of persons who were at the party at the Tamarind Court on the night Lal was shot dead, Bhojwani was not mentioned at all.
Besides this, the court pointed out that Bhojwani's statement was recorded only on May 14, 1999, 15 days after the murder occurred, casting further doubts on whether he was present at the scene at all or not.
Bhojwani was the first witness produced by the police to support its case against Siddharth Vashisht alias Manu Sharma, who was accused of having shot dead ramp model Jessica Lal on the night of April 29-30, 1999, at the Tamarind Court, a restaurant in the Qutub Collonade in south Delhi.
Meanwhile, Kumar, according to the DD Entry with the Police Station, had left for Dera village at 2.20 am on the night of the murder, but there is mention again of him going to crime-scene with the Investigation Officer Inspector Surender Kumar.
"Kumar cannot be present at both the places as per the record of the Police Station," the court said.
George Mailhot, the court noted, was not present at the time the murder occurred, a fact that was proved by two other witnesses who testified that Mailhot had left the place by
12.30 am and returned to the restaurant only after Lal had been removed to the hospital.
Pointing out further lapses in the investigation, the court said the police did not lift any chance prints from the Black Tata Safari, the vehicle allegedly used by the accused to leave the crime-scene, which could have been valuable evidence to indicate who had used the car at the time of the crime.
The police also submitted contradictory statements where they recovered the vehicle from, with two witnesses separately deposing to having picked up the car from Noida and Karnal.
Taking suo motu cognisance of news reports on the acquittal of the nine accused in the case, a division bench of the Delhi high court comprising Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Rekha Sharma has sought a detailed explanation from Delhi Police Commissioner K K Paul on the case and posted it for hearing on April 19.