The Supreme Court on Monday sealed Manu Sharma’s fate by upholding his conviction and life sentence for the 1999 murder of model Jessica Lall, saying his guilt was proved beyond reasonable doubt.
It said Sharma’s conduct — he was absconding for a while — and false answers had helped it arrive at this conclusion.
Jessica’s sister Sabrina Lall said: “It is not impossible to secure the conviction of high-profile people if society works together.” Sharma (33) is the son of Haryana Congress leader Venod Sharma.
On the night of April 29-30, 1999, Jessica, a 34-year-old bar tender, was shot dead by Sharma at Tamarind Court Cafe restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade, south Delhi. The trigger: Jessica had refused to serve him liquor.
On February 21, 2006, a trial court acquitted all the accused — including Vikas Yadav, son of UP politician D.P. Yadav, and former MNC executive Amardeep Singh Gill.
This led to public outrage and a 'Justice for Jessica' campaign. And on December 18 that year, the Delhi High Court reversed the order and sentenced Sharma to life imprisonment. Yadav and Gill got four-year jail terms for destruction of evidence.
On Monday, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeals of the three against the high court verdict, terming them “devoid of merit”.
“The evidence regarding the actual incident, the testimonies of witnesses, the evidence connecting the vehicles and cartridges to the accused — Manu Sharma — as well as his conduct after the incident prove his guilt beyond reasonable
doubt. The high court has analyzed all the evidence and arrived at the correct conclusion,” it said.
“The presence of the accused (Manu Sharma) at the scene of the crime is proved through the ocular testimonies of prosecution witnesses, which were corroborated by the three calls made to the police control room after the incident,” it said.
The court also said that Sharma gave false answers to 11 material questions posed to him by the trial court judge. He didn’t even have an explanation for his licensed pistol, used in the commission of the offence. “Thus, an adverse inference has to be drawn against him for non-explanation of the whereabouts of the pistol... the burden thus shifts on him,” the court said.