Jessica Lall murder: Actor Shayan Munshi, ballistic expert Manocha to face perjury trial

The Delhi High Court today ordered prosecution of Bollywood actor Shyan Munshi and a ballistic expert for turning hostile in the sensational Jessica Lall murder case, an offence which entails maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment.

The High Court absolved 17 other witnesses from the charge of giving false evidence during their deposition in the trial while directing its Registrar General to file a complaint against Munshi and ballistic expert P S Manocha before trial court.

"The Registrar General of this court to file a complaint before the competent court having jurisdiction to consider and take action under section 340 of CrPC against the respondents Munshi and Manocha)," a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and G P Mittal said.

The high court, while delivering its verdict in Jessica Lall 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.

The bench also referred the issue of witness protection to the Chief Justice which is to be treated as a PIL.

"The registry is directed to list the matter on July 8 before appropriate bench after obtaining orders of Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court," the bench said.

Lall 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 acquitting the accused 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 grounds that there was no major deviation between their statements to the police and later to the court.

The 17 persons who were today absolved by the high court 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.

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