New Delhi: The Delhi High Court that convicted Manu Sharma for the murder of ramp model Jessica Lall rubbished virtually all arguments put forward in his defense by his counsel and former Indian law minister Ram Jethmalani.
"Factually, Jethmalani would have the court believe that Manu Sharma was not present (at Tamarind Court, the scene of crime). Beena Ramani (too) was not present, so was her husband George Mailhot and prosecution witness Deepak Bhojwani," Judges R.S. Sodhi and P.K. Bhasin noted in their 61-page judgement Monday while summing up Jethmalani's contentions.
"And the Tata Safari (the vehicle in which Manu Sharma and some of his friends reached the Tamarind Court) was planted," the judges added.
Socialite Beena Ramani owned the restaurant where the crime was committed. She was the key prosecution witness and she told the court that she saw Manu Sharma, son of Congress leader and former Haryana minister Venod Sharma, fire at Jessica after she allegedly refused him a drink. The crime took place in April 1999.
Jethmalani, one of India's best-known criminal lawyers, came into the picture some two months ago when he took up the defense of Manu Sharma amid much criticism of his role.
The judges made clear that they were not taken in by Jethmalani's argument that two guns were used in the crime - something that had been stated earlier by Shayan Munshi, a model and a key prosecution witness who later turned hostile.
"He would also have us believe that two weapons were used ... he supports (this theory) with the aid of deposition by experts and Shayan Munshi," the judges noted.
Although the judges refrained from using harsh language against Jethmalani, the judgement rejected all his contentions in favour of Manu Sharma, who will face sentencing on Wednesday.
During his arguments, Jethmalani had made a sensational claim that Manu Sharma did not kill Jessica Lall and that it was a "tall Sikh gentleman" who shot her dead. He promised to reveal the identity of the real killer but did not do so.