In an unprecedented move, Delhi Police have plucked out of retirement one of its key officers associated with the ongoing investigations into the Jessica Lall murder case and placed him in an advisory role.
MK Sharma, who was the chief investigating officer of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the sensational murder before his service tenure ended on August 31, 2006, has been recalled in the capacity of a consultant, say highly-placed officials.
Explaining the logic behind the extraordinary step, the officials said the police top brass did not want to take any chances with the investigations into the murder case, which had been progressing smoothly under Sharma's command. They feared that in Sharma's absence, the probe might lose direction.
"Sharma has now been appointed as a consultant to the Delhi Police and would supervise and assist in the Jessica Lall murder case. Although he would not be entitled to the salary last drawn by him as a serving officer, he would be paid a lump sum amount of Rs 9,500 per month plus other facilities," said V Renganathan, staff officer to the commissioner police.
Sharma's new assignment is initially for six months and could be extended if necessary.
"This is probably for the first time in the history of Delhi Police that some middle ranking officer has been deployed as a consultant after retirement," said a senior police officer, who did not want to be named.
Jessica, an aspiring model, was allegedly shot in the head by Manu Sharma after she refused to serve him liquor, since the bar had closed. According to eyewitnesses, an inebriated Manu had fired two bullets: while the first bullet was shot in the air, the second bullet had hit Jessica in the head.
However, during trial in the sessions court, the case took a sharp U-turn when, first, the witnesses retracted their earlier statement made before the police and, second, experts claimed that the empty cartridges recovered from the spot had been fired from two different weapons.
With this the entire prosecution case fell flat in the court of law and resulted in the acquittal of all the accused. Although the incident had taken place on April 30, 1999, the judgment was delivered only this year on February 21.
The acquittals led to a huge public outcry and subsequently a case was registered against unknown persons for destruction of evidence and under other sections of the law.
A special investigation team was constituted under the supervision of Special Commissioner UK Katna and ACP Sharma was made the chief investigative officer, who retired on August 31 this year.
The SIT at present is interrogating Bina Ramani, owner of Once Upon A Time bar, where the shootout had taken place, and prime suspect for destruction of evidence. She was arrested from Goa and is on a four-day police remand.