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Jessica Lall

Left Manu Sharma, walks to a jail van, at the Delhi High Court after being sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1999 murder of former model Jessica Lall in New Delhi. The Supreme Court today upheld the conviction and life imprisonment awarded to Manu Sharma, son of senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Venod Sharma, in the murder case.

AP Photo/ Mustafa Quraishi, File

BJP Mahila Morcha activists push a barricade while being stopped by the police during a protest march against the parole of Manu Sharma, convicted in the Jessica Lall murder case, outside Delhi CM's residence in New Delhi.

PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist

Feb-Dec: Rang De ... Or Gandhigiri? Call it the blockbuster effect. Middle-class activism took on a whole new meaning, as the urban citizenry channelled technology to express its outrage against injustice. Concerned citizens held candlelight vigils for the first time ever over the acquittal of Manu Sharma & Co in the Jessica Lall case. The Priyadarshini Mattoo case too came under intense public scrutiny. Meanwhile, SMSes flew thick and fast on mobiles, e-mails and blog-spheres mushroomed.

Ram Jethmalani
Hocus-pocus, gilly-gilly-gilly. I have before me an overfed young man in a teeshirt, with a rich and powerful papaji just behind the curtain. Before your eyes, I will turn him into a tall Sikh gentleman aka the Man who Actually Pulled the Gun on Jessica Lall on that Fateful Night.... Er, sorry folks, dunno what happened...

Sandeep Adhwaryu

Thursday 1 February
Actor Shayan Munshi comes out of the High Court with his wife in New Delhi. After tough words and the issuance of non-bailable warrants, 29 hostile witnesses in the Jessica Lall murder case appeared before the Delhi High Court that directed them to explain within two weeks why they had retracted their statements during the trial. Earlier, the bench issued non-bailable warrants against six witnesses for failing to appear before it. The warrants were cancelled when they appeared in the afternoon.

Actor Shayan Munshi comes out of the High Court with his wife in New Delhi. After tough words and the issuance of non-bailable warrants, 29 hostile witnesses in the Jessica Lall murder case today appeared before the High Court that directed them to explain within two weeks why they had retracted their statements. Munshi was among the 23 hostile witnesses who came appeared this morning, but the others did not turn up, prompting the judges to issue warrants against them. On December 20, 2006, while sentencing prime accused Manu Sharma to life imprisonment for killing ramp model Jessica Lall on the intervening night of April 29-30, 1999, the Division Bench of Justices R S Sodhi and P K Bhasin had asked the witnesses to file replies explaining why they had retracted from their earlier statements to police and fixed February 19 as the date for further hearing of the matter. The court also directed state counsel Mukta Gupta to provide them copies of their statements recorded by police, their testimonies in court and testimonies of investigating officers who recorded their statements within two days. Earlier, the bench issued non-bailable warrants against six witnesses for failing to appear before it. The warrants were cancelled when they appeared in the afternoon.

Manu Sharma and Amardeep Singh Gill walk towards a jail van at the Delhi High Court in New Delhi. Sharma, the killer of model Jessica Lall who had escaped the clutches of law with the trial court acquittal, was today given life imprisonment by the High Court which rejected prosecution demand for death sentence, saying the murder was though "intentional" but "not pre-meditated". Seven years after the 32-year-old model was shot dead while working at a restaurant here as a bartender, Justice R S Sodhi and Justice P K Bhasin while delivering the sentence in a jam-packed court room said "though the case has shaken the conscience of the society yet it cannot be held that the convict (Manu) deserved maximum punishment (death)". Two other convicts Vikas Yadav, an accused in the Nitish Katara murder case and Amardeep Singh Gill alias Tony, an executive with a MNC, were sentenced to four years imprisonment with a fine of Rs 3000 each for conspiring to destroy evidence. Sharma, who surrendered after his conviction on Monday, was also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000. The court also issued notices to 32 witnesses, including Shyan Munshi, a model-actor, and Andaleeb Sehgal, businesssman facing probe in Iraqi oil-for-food scam, for turning hostile in the case.

AP Photo/ Mustafa Quraishi

Friday 3 November
In a new twist to the proceedings in the Jessica Lall murder case appeal, noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani, the counsel for prime accused Manu Sharma, has moved the Delhi High Court wanting the Bench including Justice R S Sodhi to recuse itself from hearing it. Moving an application before the Bench of Justice Sodhi and Justice P K Bhasin, which is at present hearing the appeal against the acquittal of Sharma, he submitted a newspaper article that claimed that someone on behalf of Sharma had sought to influence Justice Sodhi in 2002. The former law minister has also attacked the media for 'unleashing a malicious campaign against his client and raising doubts over the integrity of the judges hearing the case'.

AP File

Thursday 7 September
Socialite Bina Ramani, a key witness in the Jessica Lall murder case, is escorted to court by police officers in New Delhi. Ramani, who was arrested in Goa a day earlier in a cheating and forgery case, was remanded to four days police custody by a Delhi Court to facilitate her custodial interrogation. Delhi Police has claimed Ramani obtained the license misrepresenting that she was the owner of the restaurant named 'Qutub Colonade' on the basis of forged documents and served liquor without having a valid licence. Model Jessica Lall was shot in the restaurant on 30 April 1999, and all the nine prime accused in the murder case were acquitted by a Delhi court which held that the police had failed to prove its case. Meanwhile in the Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case, the CBI has pleaded to the Delhi High Court that Santosh Kumar Singh, the main accused, deserved death sentence for the offence of rape and murder as there was enough circumstantial evidence against him. The CBI's plea came after the court asked the investigating agency to prove that the samples seized from the scene of offence were not tampered with in the sensational rape-cum murder case.

AP Photo

Socialite Bina Ramani, a key witness in the Jessica Lall murder case, is escorted to court by police officers in New Delhi. Ramani, who was arrested in Goa yesterday in a cheating and forgery case, was today remanded to four days police custody by a Delhi Court to facilitate her custodial interrogation. Delhi Police has claimed Ramani obtained the license misrepresenting that she was the owner of the restaurant named 'Qutub Colonade' on the basis of forged documents and served liquor without having a valid licence. Model Jessica Lall was shot in the resturant on 30 April 1999, and all the nine prime accused in the murder case were acquitted by a Delhi court which held that the police had failed to prove its case.

AP Photo

Friday 28 July
Will the law ever catch up with the guilty? Will the victims get justice? Will middle-class Delhi's activism and outrage over the Jessica Lall case help victims in two other equally egregious cases? Amidst public protests and media campaigns to reopen the Priyadarshin Mattoo rape and murder case, the Delhi High Court has finally admitted the appeal filed by the CBI seeking an early hearing of the application filed against the acquittal of Santosh Singh, son of a top IPS officer charged with committing the crime. Mounting pressure on the investigating agency, celebrities, relatives and friends of Mattoo joined hundreds across the country on Sunday seeking justice for the slain law student on her 36th birthday. Meanwhile, in the Jessica Lall murder case, the same bench of the Delhi High Court has ordered the Delhi Police to complete its probe in two months on the bungling of evidence that eventually led to the acquittal of all the nine accused. In the third case of a similar kind, where the accused -- being the son and nephew of an influential and powerful former MP, D.P. Yadav -- remain unpunished, there seem an agonisingly slow sign of movement with a Delhi court allowing the police to begin the process for declaring Bharati Yadav, a key prosecution witness, a proclaimed offender.

Saturday 4 March
Sabrina Lall and Valsa, sisters of Jessica Lall, look on during a candlelight vigil in New Delhi. Dozens of Delhi citizens rallied around India Gate to push the government into re-opening the Jessica Lall murder case, in which all nine accused were acquitted by a city court. Bowing to huge public pressure, the Delhi Police has now registered fresh FIRs in the seven year old murder case. Announcing this, Delhi Police Commissioner K K Paul said they will also file an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the lower court judgement. The case will now be probed by a special team under Special Commissioner (intelligence) U C Katna and other officers would be appointed immediately so that there was no delay in the investigation of the registered case. In the FIR in the Mehrauli police station against "unnamed persons", a case has been made out under the Indian Panel Code for "destruction of, tampering with and fabrication of evidence", common intention to commit the crime and conspiracy charge.

AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh

Tuesday 21 February
'All the accused are acquitted' is what the judgement said and the sum total of it all was that the accused had been allowed to get away with murder literally in the sensational Jessica Lall murder-case. Immediate public and media outrage followed over the acquittals and Delhi Police's shoddy investigation and possible collusion, finally leading to the Delhi High Court to ask the city's police chief K K Paul to furnish details of the case before it. In a face saving exercise, the Delhi Police has transferred the Investigation Officer Surendra Sharma and announced it was examining grounds for appeal but ruled out any inquiry into lapses in the probe. Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has also hinted a retrial in the case saying "we would certainly like to see that justice is done in the matter. Whatever is possible, as per the law".

File

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