Can the judiciary be manipulated by the high and mighty? A Delhi High Court judge, Justice R S Sodhi, has received an anonymous letter alleging that a lawyer engaged by certain rich and influential men on the wrong side of law, the police, a prosecutor and a ballistic expert have been working hand-in-glove in the Capital and tampering with evidence to ensure acquittals in murder cases.
On receipt of the letter, Justice Sodhi, the judge who handed out the sentences in the Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Mattoo murder cases, directed the police to probe into the allegations. The letter mainly alleged that this syndicate worked towards the acquittal of Manu Sharma and eight others in the Jessica Lall case, according to sources. It pointed to a particular pattern of investigations and listed two other murder cases in which the high and mighty had been let off by trial courts on identical grounds. Citing certain cases of similar nature, the letter pointed fingers at a defence lawyer, a prosecutor and a ballistic expert, charging them with foul play.
Justice Sodhi made the disclosure in the open court on Monday while hearing the perjury cases against 19 witnesses in the Jessica Lall case, including actor Shayan Munshi. Taking serious note of the letter, the judge handed it over to Mukta Gupta, standing counsel for the Delhi police, for a probe by the Special Investigation Team probing the lapses in the Jessica Lall murder investigation.
The judge felt that if the manipulation, as alleged, is allowed to go unhindered, it would lead to the collapse of the criminal justice system. “I note that the acquittals have been on identical grounds and there is striking similarities in the way the case was conducted. Probe whether there is a nexus between any lawyer and the investigators, investigators and ballistic experts,” Sodhi told the police. The court has sought an explanation from Gupta by April 26.