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SC slams 'two weapon theory' in Jessica Lal murder case

Source: PTI
April 19, 2010 20:20 IST
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The defence of convict Manu Sharma in the Jessica Lall murder case that two weapons were used in the offence did not sustain the scruitny in the Supreme Court which said the ballistic report was vague and no credence can be lent to it.

"The opinion of Rup Singh, ballistic expert, only says that it appears that the two cartridge cases are from two different pistols. As rightly pointed out, such a vague opinion of the expert can neither be relied upon nor can be any basis to come to a conclusion that there were two persons who had fired two different shots," the court said.

The apex court, in its judgement, held that the prosecution has established its case against Manu Sharma beyond reasonable doubt that he was the holder of .22 bore pistol as the live cartridge of that make was found in the car used by him on the day of the offence. It also noted that the lead of the cartridge of same make was recovered from the skull of the Jessica Lall, two empties of bullet of the same were found at the spot.

The trial court had relied heavily on the ballistic report while acquitting Manu in the case which had sparked a public outcry, after which the Delhi Police went for an appeal in the high court. The apex court, however, rejected the two-weapon theory put forwad by Sharma's counsel Ram Jethamalani to prove that the shots were fired by someone else on the ground that the findings of two forensic experts were vague.

"The laboratory reports in the present case are vague and ambiguous and, therefore, they cannot be relied upon to reach any specific conclusion regarding the incident," the court said. The bench also rejected the contention of Jethmalani that the police theory was concocted and they deliberately framed Manu Sharma as an accused and made out a false story against him concealing the actual offender who was a tall Sikh gentleman.

"The entire premise of the defence argument that it was not a person in white T-shirt, stocky and fair (Manu Sharma) who shot at Jessica Lal over a row over the drink and fled from the spot and this was a planted and concocted story of the prosecution to rope in Manu Sharma and make escape good of the tall Sikh gentleman is wholly erroneous and without any basis," the Bench said.

The court held Manu cannot take the benefit of non-recovery of his firearm saying this defence was an afterthought as he failed to intimate the magistrate or the police about the fate of the weapon. "When a raid was conducted at his farm house at Samalkha, his pistol ammunitions and arms license were taken away by the police. Having failed to produce the same, an adverse inference has to be drawn against him.

"The only inevitable conclusion that could be reached from the said turn of events is that the pistol was still in custody of the accused and had never been recovered by the police from his farmhouse," the court said. "It is well settled that while giving reports after ballistic examination, the bullets, cartridge case and the cartridges recovered and weapon of offence recovered are carefully examined and test firing is done at the FSL by the said weapon of offence and then only a specific opinion is given," the court said.

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