Going by the evidence placed on record, out of the 29 hostile witnesses, it’s the actor Shyan Munshi and the ballistic expert PS Manocha who are most likely to face the High Court wrath, say legal experts.
The prosecution, however, can bring on record additional evidence against any of the hostile witnesses during the trial later. Those convicted for perjury can be sentenced to 7 years imprisonment under section 193 of Indian Penal Code.
Legal experts say ‘signed’ documents can be a strong piece of evidence in the court against any witness. "Shyan had signed the FIR which surely can be taken as an evidence against him. Also his denial on oath of not knowing Hindi language despite being an actor in Hindi films can go against him," said Meenakshi Lekhi, a senior High Court lawyer.
Eminent Supreme Court lawyer Pinki Anand also said that if a witness retracts from the content of any document which has been signed by him, it can surely be used to nail him later in the court.
Manocha, the ballistic expert is accused of retracting from his own expert report (signed by him) on the two-gun theory, during the cross-examination. The Division Bench of Justices RS Sodhi and PK Bhasin in the judgement on December 18 observed that Manocha ‘does not appear to be a trustworthy witness’.
"Following a court question, the witness seems to have rattled out everything contrary to his own report to support the two weapon theory which was being pressed by the defence.
Once having rendered an opinion that it was not possible to give a report regarding the empties being fired from two separate weapons, he could not have testified to the contrary without specifically carrying out tests for that purpose afresh," observed the bench in its judgement.
The other 27 witnesses, however, are reportedly accused of retracting from their police statements in the court. "Retracting from the statement recorded by the police under section 161 Crpc does not amount to perjury as it is not recorded on oath and is also not even admissible in the court as evidence," says Ramesh Gupta, senior criminal lawyer.
A witness can also be declared hostile when he does flip flop during the cross-examination in the court and retracts from what he has told the court during recording of statement, said KK Manan, senior criminal lawyer.