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Jessica case verdict listed for Monday

This is the same Bench who sentenced to death Santosh Kumar Singh who raped and murdered Priyadarshini Mattoo, reports Harish V Nair.

india Updated: Dec 17, 2006 02:24 IST

The Delhi High Court will on Monday pronounce the verdict in the appeal filed by the Delhi police against the acquittal of  Manu Sharma and eight other accused in the Jessica Lall murder case by a lower court nine months ago.

The official list of cases coming up in the Delhi High Court released Saturday evening said the bench will pronounce the verdict at 2 pm on Monday.

After hearing the arguments of the prosecution and the defence, a Division Bench comprising of  Justice RS Sodhi and Justice PK Bhasin had reserved the case for orders on November 29.

This was the same Bench which on October 31 sentenced to death Santosh Kumar Singh who raped and murdered Priyadarshini Mattoo Seeking the conviction of  all accused set free by trial judge SL Bhayana on February 21, 2006, the prosecution during the arguments constructed a chain of events based on strong circumstantial evidence and part testimonies of  even hostile witnesses against them.

Citing 92 reasons for overturning the trial court order, Delhi police has said that Bhayana’s judgment is “manifestly wrong, bad in law and contrary to the facts and evidence on record and based on conjectures and premises”.

According to the police, model Jessica Lall was shot dead by Manu, son of a former Haryana minister during a party at Mehrauli’s  Qutub Colonnade owned by socialite Bina Ramani on the night of  April 29, 1999 for refusing to serve him liquor.

The police had filed the appeal bowing to the outcry over the acquittals and the Bench fast-tracked the case by ordering a day-to-day hearing from October 3.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium and counsel Mukta Gupta appearing for the police told the court that there was enough evidence to convict Manu based on the testimonies of  Bina Ramani, her daughter Malini Ramani and husband George Mailhot.

He also cited the strong circumstantial evidence — Manu’s presence proved by witnesses, his going underground after the murder, the flurry of “frantic” calls from his phone after the incident and the missing pistol. Senior criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani who defended Manu amidst public criticism sought to demolish the prosecution case built around the deposition of  Bina Ramani.