HC questions prosecution of hostile witnesses in Jessica case

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday questioned the prosecution of all the witnesses, who took a somersault during the Jessica Lall murder trial, saying the incident of "turning hostile" has become an "endemic" and all such persons cannot be painted with the same brush.

Updated: Mar 15, 2011, 21:03 PM IST

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday
questioned the prosecution of all the witnesses, who took a
somersault during the Jessica Lall murder trial, saying the
incident of "turning hostile" has become an "endemic" and all
such persons cannot be painted with the same brush.
"How will the case of the prosecution move? The incidents
of witnesses turning hostile and doctored evidence have become
endemic now. Somebody fears for his life, someone gets tempted
and someone does not support (the prosecution) for obvious
reasons. Should we go ahead and prosecute all of them?" a
bench comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and G P Mittal said.

The bench sought the assistance of the public prosecutor
on the issue saying "is that (prosecution of such witnesses) a
solution? Ultimately, he will have to face the music."

"We will have to take a call as to what is the purpose of
having a trial," the court said, adding such kind of
prosecution may deter persons from coming forward and record
their statements to the police.
The court`s remarks came while hearing a bunch of
petitions against witnesses who did not support the police
version which led to acquittal of Siddharth Vashist alias
Manu Sharma and eight others in the sensational case.

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
party at socialite Bina Ramani`s restaurant Tamarind Court
here in South Delhi.

PTI