The public prosecutor's failure in questioning socialite Bina Ramani, a key witness to model Jessica Lal's murder, was a blunder, Delhi High Court observed on Wednesday.
Standing Counsel Mukta Gupta admitted that Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) SK Saxena was at fault in not confronting Ramani with her police statement.
Ramani had said in her statement that she had seen a man, wearing a white T-shirt, put his pistol in his pocket while fleeing away from the spot after the crime. She stated that she had chased him and asked him to hand over the pistol to her.
Lal was shot dead at Tamarind Court restaurant, run by Ramani in south Delhi, in the early hours of April 30, 1999.
A division bench comprising judges RS Sodhi and PK Bhasin came across this negligence on the part of the SPP while reading the police and court statements of Ramani together during the hearing of an appeal against the acquittal of prime accused Manu Sharma and eight others in the case by the trial court in February 2006.
"Yes, there is a mention in it that prosecution witness Ramani had seen a man wearing a white T-Shirt put his pistol in his pocket but the SPP did not confront her with this portion of her statement or declare her hostile," the bench noted after reading out the relevant portion from her police statement.
When the bench sought explanation from Gupta about the lapse, she said: "Today I stand where I am. I admit his fault."
The bench then said: "The SPP had let you down."
The bench also questioned the manner in which the SPP had put questions to the prosecution witnesses while recording their evidence in the trial.
It said that instead of confronting them with their statements, the prosecution should have first put direct questions and then confronted them with their statements.