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'We do not want Manu Sharma to be hanged'
The Delhi High Court has convicted Manu Sharma under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code for the murder of model Jessica Lal [Images].
Justices R S Sodhi and P K Bhasin also found Vikas Yadav and Amarjeet Singh Gill alias Tony guilty of conspiracy and destruction of evidence. They have been convicted under Section 201 of IPC.
The court declared that Manu Sharma, son of a senior Haryana Congress leader, had actually fired the shot that killed Jessica.
Vikas Yadav is the son of controversial Uttar Pradesh politician D P Yadav and is also an accused in the Nitish Katara murder case. Gill is an executive with a multinational firm. All the three were directed to be taken into custody forthwith.
While Manu Sharma was not present in the court, Gill, who was present, was taken into custody.
The Bench issued a production warrant against Vikas Yadav who is already in judicial custody in the Katara murder case. "Arrest Manu whereever he is," the Bench said, directing all the three convicts to be present on Wednesday during arguments on sentence.
On the night of April 29-30, 1999, Jessica was shot dead at Tamarind Court, a restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani.
Manu, Vikas Yadav, Gill and Alok Khanna had gone to attend a party at the Qutub Collonade on the fateful night.
On February 21 2006, all the accused were acquitted 'for want of evidence' by trial judge S L Bhayana, now a judge in the High Court. This triggered a massive media and public reaction over the judgement in the case.
The case was re-opened following the police appeal in March, challenging the acquittal. Justices R S Sodhi and P K Bhasin, conducted a day-to-day hearing over 25 days.
'We have no hesitation in reaching the conclusion that Siddharth Vasisht alias Manu Sharma has been guilty under Section 302 of IPC and Section 26 of the Arms Act', the 61-page much-awaited judgement said.
Manu Sharma's lawyers have said they will plead for minimum punishment. He faces life sentence or death under Section 302. "We will plead for minimum sentence," said R D Rana, one of the defence counsel for Sharma and other accused.
The Delhi Police was ordered by the High Court to investigate the role of its officials, who allegedly tampered with the evidence and influenced the investigations. The court fixed Wednesday for hearing arguments before pronouncing the quantum of sentence for the three convicts.
All the remaining accused including Yograj Singh, father of cricketer Yuvraj Singh [Images], were acquitted.
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