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May 22, 2013 at 03:13pm IST

Jessica Lal case: Shayan Munshi, Prem Manocha to be tried for perjury

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has decided that a case of perjury will commence against two witnesses, Shayan Munshi and Prem Sagar Manocha in the Jessica Lal murder trial. The rest of the 17 witnesses have been acquitted by the court. The 19 witnesses had turned hostile during the trial of the Jessica Lal murder case. A bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and GP Mittal pronounced its decision in the case in which the High Court had taken suo motu cognisance and questioned the prosecution as to how all the witnesses took somersault during the trial.

It had reserved its order on May 4, 2011, after hearing arguments on behalf of police and the witnesses who had turned hostile. Lal was shot dead in April 1999 by Manu Sharma, son of Haryana Congress leader Venod Sharma after she refused to serve a drink to him at a late night party at socialite Bina Ramani's restaurant Tamarind Court here in South Delhi. The High Court, which reversed trial court's verdict on December 18, 2006, awarded life imprisonment to Manu Sharma.

Munshi, who had lodged the FIR in the case, had pleaded to the court not to prosecute him saying, "He cannot be termed hostile as even the apex court had used part of his deposition in convicting the accused." Munshi, the complainant in the case, had disowned the complaint during the trial, saying he did not know Hindi. The prosecution had urged the high court to refer 19 out of the 31 hostile witnesses, including Munshi, to the magisterial court for their trial on charges of perjury.

It had pointed out that of the total 31 witnesses, only 19 were available for trial as three had died while the court had itself discharged 10 of them earlier on the ground that there was no major deviation between their statements to the police and later to the court. The 19 persons, whose fate will be decided tomorrow for turning hostile include socialite Andleeb Sehgal, ballistic experts Roop Singh and Prem Sagar, electrician Shiv Shankar Dass and eyewitness Jagannath Jha. The apex court, while upholding the high court's ruling in the case in April 2010, had also endorsed its findings on the issue of perjury.

(With additional information from PTI)