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Case Review: Jessica Lal Murder Case

Aditi Jha,

Intern, Legal Angles Patna

Name of the case: Manu Sharma v. State (NCT of Delhi)

Popular Name: Jessica Lal Murder Case

Basic Fact: Jessica Lal who was 34 years old local actress and model hired been work in celebrities bartender at the Tararmind Court restaurant in Delhi. On the day of incident i.e., April 29, 1999 Jessica along with her other colleagues were working in the restaurant and bar was officially closed around midnight when the petitioner Manu Sharma along with his culprit friends. Manu Sharma is a son of Venod Sharma who was a Congress Party minister at the time.

Around 2 o’ clock in midnight, when the petitioner demanded to be served alcohol, to this he was told that bar was closed to that he offered Jessica 1000 bucks which she refused. After having heated conversation between the petitioner and Jessica, Manu Sharma fried one gunshot towards the ceiling and second gunshot was fried toward Jessica. She was hit near temple and collapsed. Petitioner and his friends left the scene during chaos. An ambulance was called and was taken to the Apollo Hospital.

On 30th April, 1999 she was declared death by doctors.Manu Sharma was fingered as the culprit by numerous witnesses, including Jessica Lal’s fellow bartender, owner’s husband, and other witnesses. He himself surrendered in Chandigarh and confessesin front of police officers which later retracted as it was not obtained by proper procedure. In the court, the eyewitnesses turned hostile and lack of evidence, all this caused the accused to acquit from the cases.

This result in public outcry against miscarriage of justice many protests were happened, candle marched was organized and petitions were circulated. By seeing all this, President Abdul Kalam was promised to take the action. The decision was appealed to the Delhi High Court by the prosecution in March, and in December the lower court ruling was reversed with respect to three of the defendants. Manu Sharma was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, and two other defendants were convicted for conspiracy and destruction of evidence.

Later on, advocate of Manu Sharma approached to the Supreme Court regarding to the decision of Delhi High Court where Supreme Court first accept the plea of Manu Sharma but later on reject the plea while stating that decision of Delhi High Court is correct.

Sections/ Articles/ Acts and Statutes involved:

Indian Penal Code, 1860:sec. 302 & Sec. 201 r/w sec.120 – B

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973:sec. 154, sec. 157, sec. 378, 386, sec. 293, sec. 294, sec. 24, sec. 170, sec. 172, sec. 173

Indian Evidence Act, 1872: sec. 45, sec.9, sec.8, sec. 27, sec. 106, sec. 114 III( g), sec. 140, sec. 142, sec. 143, sec. 146

Indian Arms Act,1959: sec. 27

Constitution of India Act, 1951: Article 19, 20 & 21.

Name of the Advocate in Supreme Court:

Senior Advocate of that time Ram Jethmalani from sides of Manu Sharma

Former Solicitor General of India Mr. Gopal Subramanium from the State sides

Name of Judges:

Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Swatanter Kumar.

Decision of the court:

Trial court: released the accused due to lack of evidence presented in the court

High Court: Reverse the verdict of trial court and give life imprisonment to the Manu Sharma and two other defendants were convicted for conspiracy and destruction of evidence.

Supreme Court: Reserve the decision of High Court regarding to the life imprisonment of the accused Manu Sigh but later on Supreme Court confirmed the decision of High Court.

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