There are some cases which imprint on the mind of people forever. Jessical lal’s case was such type of case and after its adaption to movie, it became an unforgettable case. Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherjee’s lead movie ‘No one killed Jessica’ presented the horrific story of murder and arduous legal battle for justice, it showed how justice becomes a mirage when accused are from politically powerful class.

What happened on the night 29-30 April 1999

On night intervening 29-30.04.1999, a `Thursday Party’ was going on at Qutub Colonnade at “Once upon a time” restaurant also called “Tamarind Cafi”.

The liquor was being served by the bartenders, namely, Jessica Lal and one Shyan Munshi. At about 2.00 a.m., Sidhartha Vashisht @ Manu Sharma along with his friends came there and asked for two drinks. The waiter did not serve him liquor as the party was over. Jessica Lal and Malini Ramani, who were also present there, tried to make him understand that the party was over and there was no liquor available with them.

Manu Sharma

On refusal to serve liquor, the appellant took out a pistol and fired one shot at the roof and another at Jessica Lal which hit near her left eye as a result of which she fell down. Beena Ramani, who was present there, stopped Sharma and questioned him as to why he had shot Jessica Lal and demanded the weapon from him but he did not hand over the pistol and fled away.

Jessica Lal

Jessica Lal was rushed to Ashlok Hospital from where she was shifted to Apollo Hospital. On 30.04.1999, in the early morning hours, Jessica Lal was declared brought dead at Apollo Hospital.

Case to the Police

On the night intervening 29/30.04.1999 at 2.20 a.m., daily diary entry was recorded at Police Station Mehrauli which disclosed a shooting incident at H- 5/6 Qutub Colonnade. On reaching the spot, SI sharad kumar found that the injured had been removed to Ashlok Hospital and the floor of the Restaurant was found to be wet. SI Sunil Kumar then left SI Sharad Kumar at the spot to guard the same and proceeded to Ashlok Hospital along with Ct. Subhash.

The SHO Police Station Mehrauli, Inspector S.K. Sharma along with his team also left the Police Station and reached the spot and deputed one Home Guard Shravan Kumar at the entrance of `Qutub Colonnade’ to guard the vehicles.

On reaching Ashlok Hospital, Sunil kumar met Beena Ramani, who was the owner of the Restaurant, and enquired about the incident but she asked him to talk to Shyan Munshi saying that he was inside and he knew everything. SI then recorded the statement of Munshi and made an endorsement on the same for the registration of the case under Section 307 IPC (Attempt to Murder) and handed over it to Ct. Subhash to be carried to the police station, Mehrauli.

At about 4.00 a.m., FIR No. 287/99 was registered at the police station, Mehrauli. In the meantime, Jessica Lal had been shifted to Apollo Hospital. When SI Sunil Kumar came back to the spot along with Munshi and sharvan kumar informed them about the lifting of one black Tata Safari from the spot. On inspection of the site, two empty cartridges were seized and, in the meantime, a supplementary statement of Munshi was also recorded by Sunil Kumar.

At about 5.45 a.m., Sunil kumar received an information by Ct. Satyavan intimating him about the death of Jessica Lal at Apollo Hospital.

At about 7.00 a.m. SI recorded the statement of the Manager, Waiter and Beena Ramani- the owner of the Restaurant.

The post mortem was conducted at about 11.30 a.m. at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on the same day i.e. 30.04.1999. In the meantime, at about 11.00 a.m., SI Pankaj Malik had been sent to Chandigarh to secure the black Tata Safari and to arrest manu sharma.

On 30.04.1999 at about 4.15 p.m., an FIR was registered against Malini Ramani, Beena Ramani and George Mailhot under Sections 61/68/1/14 of the Punjab Excise Act.

On the night intervening 30.04.1999/01.05.1999, at about 2 a.m., the police raided the farm house of manu sharma and on search being conducted seized a photograph of him. On 02.05.1999, a list of invited guests was prepared by George Mailhot.

On 05.05.1999 at about 2.30 a.m., Amardeep Singh Gill @ Tony Gill and Alok Khanna were arrested and from their alleged disclosure statements, the involvement of Sidhartha Vashisht @ Manu Sharma was confirmed.

On 06.05.1999, the appellant surrendered before Inspector Raman Lamba and was later arrested at about 2.20 p.m. and brought to Delhi.

On 07.05.1999, the police produced Manu Sharma before the Metropolitan Magistrate and sought police remand for effecting recovery of the alleged weapon of offence. Thereafter, he was remanded to five days police custody till 12.05.1999 and thereafter on 12.05.1999 extended till 17.05.1999 on the application of the I.O., but on 15.05.1999, the his remand was preponed from 17.05.1999 to 15.05.1999. On 16.05.99, the appellant was sent to judicial custody.

On 30.05.1999, the accused-Vikas Yadav was also arrested. After the completion of investigation, the other accused persons were also arrested.

On 03.08.1999, charge sheet was filed against ten accused persons.

On 23.11.2000, the Additional Sessions Judge framed

  • charges against Manu Sharma under Sections 302, 201 read with 120 B IPC and Section 27 of the Arms Act,
  • charge under Section 201/120B IPC has been framed against accused Vikas Yadav, Amardeep Singh Gill @ Tony Gill and Alok Khanna,
  • charge under Section 212 IPC has been framed against Harvinder Chopra, Raja Chopra, Vikas Gill @ Ruby Gill and Yograj Singh and
  • charge under Section 201/212 IPC against Shyam Sunder Sharma.
  • accused Alok Khanna, Shyam Sunder Sharma and Amit Jhingan were discharged of all the offences.

Petition to High Court against Acquittal of some accused

In 2000/2001, Revision Petition No. 596 of 2000 was preferred by the prosecution before the High Court of Delhi praying for the framing of charge against the accused persons and setting aside the discharge of Alok Khanna, Shyam Sunder Sharma and Amit Jhingan.

On 12.04.2001, charges as per the orders of the High Court were framed and some of the charges as framed earlier were maintained.

Charges under Section 120B/201 IPC were framed against accused Vikas Yadav, Amardeep Singh Gill @ Tony Gill and Alok Khanna and charges under Sections 201 and 212 IPC were framed against accused Shyam Sunder Sharma. Against the rest of the accused, the charges as framed on 23.11.2000 by the trial Court were maintained.

Trial at Session Court

Trial began in May, 2001 against nine accused. In all, 101 witnesses were examined by the prosecution and two court witnesses were also examined.

On 12.12.2001, the case registered against Malini Ramani, Beena Ramani and George Mailhot under the Punjab Excise Act was disposed of with a direction to pay a fine of Rs.200/- each.

On 28.01.2002, Manu Sharma was released on interim bail for a period of six weeks by the order of the High Court dated 25.01.2002 with a direction to surrender after the expiry of the same.

In compliance with the conditions of interim bail, the appellant surrendered on 11.3.2002 but again sought for and granted interim bail for a period of ten weeks starting from 20.03.2002. During the period from March 2002 to February 2006, the appellant was enlarged on bail on different occasions by various orders of the High Court.

On one occasion, against the dismissal of the bail application by the High Court on 11.11.2003, the appellant filed a special leave petition before Supreme Court which was dismissed by Court on 02.12.2003.

On 21.02.2006, after trial, the Additional Sessions Judge acquitted all the nine accused including Manu Sharma.

Case at Delhi High Court

Challenging the acquittal, the prosecution filed an appeal before the High Court being Crl. Appeal No. 193 of 2006.

On 20.12.2006, the High Court convicted and sentenced the appellants, as mentioned in paragraphs above.

Appeal at Supreme Court

Challenging the said order of the High Court, all three appellants filed appeals before Supreme Court.

What the Supreme Court held

The Supreme Court analysed the whole case, considered the testimonies of witnesses, substantive evidence and arguments of both sides of counsels and finally concluded its judgement as follows-

“1) The appellate Court has all the necessary powers to re-evaluate the evidence let in before the trial Court as well as the conclusions reached. It has a duty to specify the compelling and substantial reasons in case it reverses the order of acquittal passed by the trial Court. In the case on hand, the High Court by adhering to all the ingredients and by giving cogent and adequate reasons reversed the order of acquittal.

2) The presence of the accused at the scene of crime is proved through the ocular testimonies.

3) Phone calls made immediately after an incident to the police constitutes an FIR only when they are not vague and cryptic. Calls purely for the reason of getting the police to the scene of crime do not necessarily constitute the FIR. In the present case, the phone calls were vague and therefore could not be registered as the FIR. The FIR was properly lodged as per the statement of Shyan Munshi.

4) Delay in recording the statement of the witnesses do not necessarily discredit their testimonies. The court may rely on such testimonies if they are cogent and credible.

5) The laboratory reports in the present case are vague and ambiguous and, therefore, they cannot be relied upon to reach any specific conclusion regarding the incident.

6) The evidence regarding the actual incident, the testimonies of witnesses, the evidence connecting the vehicles and cartridges to the accused – Manu Sharma, as well as his conduct after the incident prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The High Court has analysed all the evidence and arrived at the correct conclusion.

7) The public prosecutor is under a duty of disclosure under the Cr.P.C., Bar Council Rules and relevant principles of common law. Nevertheless, a violation of this duty does not necessarily vitiate the entire trial. A trial would only be vitiated if non-disclosure amounts to a material irregularity and causes irreversible prejudice to the accused. In the present case, no such prejudice was caused to the accused, and therefore the trial is not vitiated.

8) No prejudice had been caused to the right of the accused to fair trial and non-furnishing of the copy of one of the ballistic reports had not hampered the ends of justice. The right of the accused to disclosure has not received any set back in the facts and circumstances of the case.

9) The High Court has rightly convicted the other two accused, namely, Amardeep Singh Gill @ Tony Gill and Vikas Yadav after appreciation of the evidence of witnesses.

10) Normally, the judgment/order should be set aside or affirmed as the case may be but preferably without offering any undesirable comments, disparaging remarks or indications which would impinge upon the dignity and respect of judicial system.

11) Every effort should be made by the print and electronic media to ensure that the distinction between trial by media and informative media should always be maintained. Trial by media should be avoided particularly, at a stage when the suspect is entitled to the constitutional protections. Invasion of his rights is bound to be held as impermissible.

We hold that the prosecution has established its case beyond doubt against the appellants and we are in agreement with the conclusion arrived at by the High Court, consequently, all the appeals are devoid of any merit and are accordingly dismissed.”


Siddhartha Vashishth @ Manu Sharma v. State (NCT of Delhi) [2010]