The Delhi High Court issued notices to 32 persons for turning hostile as witnesses during the trial of the Jessica Lall murder case.
Some of them, whose depositions were significant, included:
Shayan Munshi: His testimony was perhaps the most important. Munshi told police initially that he was standing near Jessica Lall and had seen the man who shot her. He also said he could recognise him. But in the court, he said he and Jessica had an argument with a man over liquor. The man took out a pistol and fired in the air. He claimed another man, wearing light-coloured clothes, on the other side of the counter shot at Jessica. HT tried to contact Munshi for his reaction to the notice, but he did not answer his cell phone.
Shiv Das: An electrician at the Tamarind Court, he reportedly told police that he had seen a man in a white T-shirt having an argument with Jessica. He said the man shot at the roof and then at Jessica. Das also identified Manu Sharma at the police station. He changed his tune in the court, saying he was on the terrace of Qutub Colonnade to disconnect the temporary lights just as the party was ending. Around 2 a.m., hearing the sound of two cracker bursts, he went into the café. There he saw Jessica lying injured on the floor. Das said he had not seen anyone firing a shot at her. HT did not find Das at his Patel Nagar residence in west Delhi on Wednesday. Neighbours said he was suffering from jaundice and had not been working for a while now.
Parikshit Sagar: A businessman, Sagar was present at Tamarind Court when Jessica was killed. But Sagar told the court that he had left the party before the shots were fired. When the HT visited his house at Avlon Apartments on M G Road, neighbours disclosed that Sagar had died in 2001.
Chandra Prakash Chabra: A relative of Harvinder Singh Chopra, he had harboured Manu Sharma at his house in Saket after Jessica was killed. Chabra owned the house. He was not present at his residence on Wednesday and his wife refused to comment on the notice sent to him.
Harminder Singh Billa: Manu Sharma, his friends Vikas Gill and Ravinder Krishan Sood, left Chopra’s house for Chandigarh in a white Ford car. Sood was dropped at the Kashmere Gate bus stand. The other two stopped at a petrol pump on the G.T. Road on their way to Panchkula. Billa was the cashier at the pump. He had told the police that the staff had, by mistake, filled diesel in the car. The occupants, who were in a hurry, refused their offer to rectify the mistake and sped away. Billa lives in Rohini. He told the HT that he had never backtracked from his statement.
Andaleeb Sehgal: He had told the court that he had attended the party on April 29, 1999 with his wife. He also said he knew both Amardeep Singh Gill and Manu Sharma and that he had met both on the day of the murder. A businessman, Sehgal, also faces probe in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam. Despite repeated attempts, Sehgal could not be reached for comments.
Tarsem Lal Thapar: Private assistant to Venod Sharma for the last 11 years, Thapar was called to the sessions court six years ago because the prosecution said he was at the party where Jessica was shot. He was asked to identify those present at Tamarind Court that night but Thapar denied that he was present at the party.
Sobhana K/ Abhishek Bhalla/S K Ahuja