Two-gun theory backfired

The fact that the empties were sent for examination at such a belated stage cannot rule out foul play to destroy the prosecution?s case during trial, reports Harish V Nair.

india Updated: Dec 20, 2006 02:37 IST

Manu Sharma's defence lawyers relied heavily on the two-gun theory to bail him out. But the theory cut no ice with the high court. It had paid dividends in the trial court where ballistic experts Roop Singh and PS Minocha had stated that two cartridges had been fired from different guns. Their staments meant that two people had fired at Jessica Lall. Key witness Shyan Munshi confirmed this, leading to Manu’s acquittal.

The high court, however, emphatically rejected this contention of the defence. Division Bench of Justice RS Sodhi and Justice PK Bhasin called the argument "a concoction" and a manipulation of evidence by “Shyan Munshi who for the first time in court, introduced such a story”.

The bench said “the fact that the empties were sent for examination at such a belated stage cannot rule out foul play to destroy the prosecution’s case during trial”.

While Roop Singh’s report had said the bullets were fired from two weapons, Minocha had maintained that no definite opinion could be given unless the firearm was recovered. This had knocked the wind out of the prosecution’s case.

The high court, on the other hand, upheld the prosecution’s contention that the bullets recovered from Jessica’s skull, the crime scene as well as Manu Sharma’s Tata Safari were all of .22 bore with the ‘C’ mark on them and that Roop Singh had made “subsequent insertions”.

Since it is established that Manu possessed a .22 bore pistol and that he had bought ‘C’ mark bullets days before the murder, nothing more needed to be proved, the bench held.

Regarding Minocha’s opinion, the judges said it categorically meant “that it is not possible to say whether the cartridges have been fired from two different weapons. However, following a court question, the witness seems to have rattled out everything to the contrary to his own report to support the two-weapon theory being pressed by the defence”.

The high court said having once said it was not possible to give a report regarding the empties being fired from two separate weapons, Minocha could not have testified to the contrary without specifically carrying out tests for that purpose.

First Published: Dec 20, 2006 02:37 IST