The Delhi Police on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that all hostile witnesses in the Jessica Lall murder case, including bollywood actor Shayan Munshi, deserved to be prosecuted for perjury.
“As the high court in 2006, while convicting main accused Manu Sharma formed a prima facie opinion that the witnesses had committed perjury, there was no statutory requirement to give them a hearing. This court just had to forward the recommendation to the competent trial court to try them for perjury,” Delhi Police Standing Counsel Pawan Sharma told a bench headed by Justice S Ravindra Bhat
But the court, while admitting that “witnesses turning hostile had become endemic” in the criminal justice system, questioned if all witnesses could be painted with the same brush
The police said there was a necessity to curb perjury as nowadays in every criminal trial, witnesses were turning hostile. He said trial courts were liberal in not initiating offence under perjury and strict action against hostile witnesses in such a case would send across a “strong message”.
On February 18, the court had given a hearing to the witnesses and asked Munshi and 18 other key witnesses why they could not stick to statements given to the police in the trial court.
The court’s query was to Munshi’s lawyer Aman Lekhi when he relied on certain technicalities and laboured hard to prove that Munshi had not deviated much from his original statements though there were some minor inconsistencies.
“Only in a courtroom such fine distinction based on technicalities can be made. Of course a very fine exercise in semantics (art of playing with words/interpretation of a word). Why did the witnesses not stick to what they said earlier and why did they have to invite perjury proceedings at all?” asked the court.
It will continue the hearing on March 29.