Manu deserves life for killing Jessica: Apex court


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Monday upheld the Delhi High Court’s December 2006 verdict sentencing former Haryana minister Venod Sharma’s son Manu Sharma to life for killing ramp model Jessica Lall at a south Delhi restaurant in April 1999.

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A bench of Justice P.K. Sathasivam and Justice Swatanter Kumar said Manu’s presence at the scene of the crime and involvement in the murder was established beyond any reasonable doubt.

The apex court also upheld the conviction of former Rajya Sabha member D.P. Yadav’s son Vikas Yadav and multinational executive Amardeep Singh Gill alias Tony Gill and the four-year jail term awarded to them in the case.

Sharma was convicted on charges of shooting down the ramp model and Yadav and Gill were convicted for destruction of evidence and shielding Sharma.

While upholding the high court’s ruling convicting Sharma, the bench rejected his counsel and former Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani’s “tall Sikh gentleman” theory according to which Jessica’s killer was a tall Sikh man who had fired on the victim and fled.

Jethmalani had made this contention quoting media reports, attributed to the police sources, that appeared soon after the murder on April 29-30, 1999.

The bench said that the presence of Sharma at the scene of crime is established beyond any doubt on the basis of deposition made by socialite Bina Ramani, her husband George Mailhot and daughter Malini Ramani.

Rejecting Jethmalani’s contention that the trial was vitiated as there were loopholes in prosecution’s evidence, the bench said even if there were some discrepancies in the prosecution evidence it did not mean that the entire trial was vitiated.

The bench said that the conduct of the accused Sharma, Yadav and Gill, including their flight from the scene of the crime, the act of removal of their Tata Safari vehicle from the scene of the crime and their telephonic talks after the crime established their guilt.

The bench also rejected Jethmalani’s contention that the prosecution had refused to supply him certain ballistic reports which were beneficial to his case.

The ballistic report of controversial forensic expert Roop Singh had propounded a “two gun theory” as per which two shots had been fired at the scene of the crime, one each from two different guns.

The ballistic report had said that the bullet which killed Jessica had been fired from a different gun than the one which was recovered from the scene of the crime.

The bench said as the prosecution had not taken this particular evidence on record, there was no need to give it to the defence.

With the bench rejecting most of his argument and upholding Sharma’s conviction, Jethmalani later said that he was not satisfied with the judgment.

“My reaction is that I am not happy with it. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose and today I have lost, it does not matter to me,” said Jethmalani.

“A lawyer’s duty is to bow down to the judgment of the court,” he told reporters.

Jethmalani also disapproved of the media reporting in the case.