New Delhi: Bollywood actor Shyan Munshi on Friday pleaded with the Delhi High Court against his trial for alleged perjury for turning hostile in model Jessica Lall murder case trial arguing the apex court had used part of his deposition in convicting Manu Sharma and others for the crime.
As the proceedings for prosecution of 31 hostile witnesses resumed before a division bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and G P Mittal, Munshi's counsel Aman Lekhi pleaded before the court to discharge his client.
Lekhi contended Shyan cannot be termed hostile as even the apex court had used part of his deposition in convicting Congress leader Venod Shrama's son Manu Sharma and others for the crime.
"The Supreme Court did not discard Munshi's statement completely but accepted some portion of his testimony," Lekhi argued while referring to the high court's December 2006 findings that it had issued the show cause notice to his client and other witnesses in public interest.
Munshi is facing perjury charge as it was he on whose statement the police had registered the FIR against Sharma and was the star witness of the prosecution.
But during his deposition in the court, he had turned hostile and introduced the "two-gun theory" (use of two guns in the murder) that led to Manu's acquittal by the trial court.
"The Supreme Court has already dealt with Munshi's testimony before trial court. It was again corroborated by the statement of the ballistic expert that two cartridges were fired from two different pistols," Leki argued.
He said "his (Shyan's) statement before the police is not admissible in the court of law and it is not binding on the part of a prosecution witness to give the same statement before the trial court."
"It was for the trial court either to accept or reject the statement and the trial court had accepted the testimony," Lekhi argued.
But the bench remained unimpressed with the argument and said "we don't want go into trial of the case again. It did get defeated at one layer and it was discarded by the court".
Taking a cue from Munshi's counsel, the counsel for Tamarind Court's electrician Shivraj Yadav, alleged there are so many additions and subtractions in the original statement given to the police.
To this submission, the bench asked the lawyer to submit the statement which he never told to the police.
The counsel said his client was only a small employee and did not know the names of the guests invited to the party but the copy of the statement before the police had mentioned about the name of the guests.
Opposing the argument by various counsel, Delhi government's Standing Counsel (Criminal) Pawan Sharma pleaded to the court to refer 19 out of the 31 hostile witnesses, including Munshi, to the magisterial court for their trial on the charge of perjury.
Sharma pointed out that of the total 31 witnesses, only 19 are now available for trial as three are dead while the court itself had discharged 10 of them on the ground that there was no major deviation between their statements to the police and later to the court.
Sharma argued that in December 2006, this court had taken a serious note of the act of these witnesses and issued show cause notices to them.
"These people should not be given any further opportunity for hearing," he contended.
Asking the court to refer the matter forthwith to the city's additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) for trial of 19 witnesses, Sharma argued the hostile witnesses should not be given any more chance by this court.
The bench, after hearing the replies from the witnesses, adjourned the matter for March 15.
The 19 persons, who were facing court proceeding for turning hostile in the case included socialite Andleeb Sehgal, ballistic experts Roop Singh and Prem Sagar, electrician Shiv Shankar Dass and eyewitness Jagannath Jha.
The high court had taken suo motu cognisance against Munshi and other hostile witnesses while reversing the trial court's acquittal order and sentencing Congress leader Venod Sharma's son Manu Sharma Sharma to life term in 2006.
The court had later deferred the trial in the perjury case as Sharma went in appeal to the Supreme Court against the high court ruling.
As the apex court, while upholding the high court's ruling in Jessica Lall murder case last April, also endorsed its findings on the issue of perjury, the high court today resumed proceedings in the perjury case now.
The case dates back to April 1999 when Lall was shot dead by Manu Sharma after she refused to serve drink to him at a late night party at socialite Bina Ramani's restaurant Tamarind Court in South Delhi.
After the trial of the sensational murder case, the lower court had acquitted all the nine accused as a majority of prosecution witnesses, including Munshi, turned hostile.
But a bench headed by Justice R S Sodhi of Delhi High Court, had in 2006, reversed the trial court order and sentenced Sharma to life imprisonment for killing Jessica.
The court had also awarded four-year jail term to Vikas Yadav, son of former MP D P Yadav, and Amarjeet Singh Gill, an MNC executive, for destroying evidence.