New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered prosecution of Bollywood actor Shyan Munshi and ballistic expert Prem Sagar Manocha for turning hostile in the 1999 Jessica Lal murder case, an offence which entails maximum punishment of seven years' imprisonment.
Munshi, the complainant and the key witness in the case, had disowned the complaint during the trial, saying he did not know Hindi. Munshi had disowned the statement, presented by the police in the case, saying he had narrated the incident in English as he did not know Hindi.
During the trial, Munshi had also supported the two-gun theory in the case. Coming down heavily on him in 2006, the Delhi High Court had said: "In court he has taken a somersault and came out with a version that there were two gentlemen at the bar counter. ...(We) have no manner of doubt that on this aspect he is telling a complete lie".
The other witness, who differed with the initial prosecution theory in the Jessica Lal murder case, was Prem Sagar Manocha, the then deputy director of the Rajasthan State Forensic Science Laboratory, Jaipur.
The cartridges, which were collected from the crime scene, were sent to the Jaipur lab by the police in December 1999 for a second opinion after the Delhi CFSL raised the two-gun theory in a report submitted a month later. Armed with the Jaipur lab's "favourable opinion" which came out in February 2000, the prosecution made Manocha a key witness.
While the prosecution maintained that only one weapon had been used in the murder of Jessica, Manocha gave an entirely different version later claiming that the two cartridges had been fired from different weapons.
The High Court, while delivering its verdict in Jessica Lal murder case in December 2006, had taken suo motu cognisance of witnesses turning hostile in the case and questioned the prosecution as to how they took somersault during the trial.
Jessica was shot dead in April 1999 by Manu Sharma, son of Haryana Congress leader Vinod Sharma after she refused to serve a drink to him at a late night party at socialite Bina Ramani's restaurant Tamarind Court in South Delhi. Manu Sharma was awarded life imprisonment in the case by the High Court.