This Case Comment on Jessica Lal Murder Case, is written by Harshita Swami. She is a Law Student from Guwahati University; having keen interest in Legal Research and Writing.
|Case Name||Siddharth Vashish @ Manu Sharma V. State NCT Delhi|
|Case No.||Criminal Appeal No. 179 /2007 with 157/3007 & 224/2007|
|Appellant||Siddharth Vashish @ Manu Sharma|
|Respondent||State NCT Delhi|
|Equivalent Citation||(2010) 6 SCC 1; (2010) 2 SCC ( cri) 1385|
- Swatanter Kumar
Concept of Circumstantial Evidence
The Jessica Lal Murder case gave rise a nation-wide uproar leading to the conviction of the nine accused persons by the sessions court of New Delhi. This case led to an amendment in the criminal law of the country. The reason because of which the Jessica murder case is considered to be unique form any other murder case; is that the victim herself and the accused persons were involved therein. The deceased was a model by profession. A well known face of the glamour world; and the latter was a man with powers, position, prestige in the society; which was enough to construct or break the teeth of criminal law.
An interesting aspect of this case is that; there was promotion of the Additional Sessional Judges S. Bhayana to the High Court. The next day after the judgement was delivered. 
Facts of the Case
The incident took place on the night of 29 April 1999 and 30th April 1999 at about 2 a.m.; at a place called the “Tamarind Cafe“ at Qutus Colonnade; which is also known as: Once Upon A Time Restaurant. A Delhi based socialite, Bina Ramani hosted a party for her husband who was leaving for abroad. The deceased along with the prime witness named ‘Shyan Munshi’ was serving as the bartenders. At about 2 a.m., 6-7 persons came and demanded liquor to which Jessica replied that the bar has been closed; and the liquor could not be served.
Hearing this ‘Manu Sharma‘ became arrogant and he took out a pistol and fired two shots; out of which one hit the roof and the other hit Jessica which lead to an injury in her left eye. Everyone who were present at the party noticed that there was something fishy. There was complete disturbance Bima Ramani asked Manu Sharma to hand over his gun. “Geoge Mailhot” ran towards the gate to catch a glimpse of the accused but by then; Manu had ran away. The other accused named “Vikash Yadav”; Amardeep Singh Gill accompanied Manu Sharma during the occurrence of the crime.
Jessica was admitted to the hospital and on 30th April; in the early morning hours she was declared dead by the doctor’s of Appollo Hospital. 
- Whether the prosecution was successful in establishing; it’s case against all the accused beyond reasonable doubt ?
- That whether the trial court was justified in acquitting all the accused persons ?
- Whether the order of the High court was viable ?
- Section 302 IPC, Section 201 read with 120 B IPC 1979
- In Section 27 of the Arms Act 1969
- Section 202 of IPC 1973
Applicability of the Laws
- Section 302 , 201 read with 120 B of IPC States the offence of murder; removal of evidence or proving incorrect information read with criminal conspiracy.
- Section 27 of the arms act provides punishment for operating guns.
- Section 212 of IPC provides penalty for the offences related to harbouring or concealing any person having knowledge; or who has a reason to believe to be an offender. 
The Supreme court held that the appellate court all the essential powers to re–examine all the evidence; that was produced in the trial court and revise the order of acquittal that was delivered by the trial court; and confirming the re examination of the order of acquittal with proper reasoning.
The court stated, the prosecution established accused ‘Manu Sharma‘ and eight accused beyond any doubt; and the Court was in agreement with the settlement of the first court; and altered the order of the acquittal into one of persuasion.
The supreme court declared that all the appeals lacked merits and dismissed them. 
The whole case relied upon circumstantial evidence which was established by the facts of the case. Siddharth Vasishth @ Manu Sharma in arrogance fired a gunshot over the victim Jessica and in order to proved himself innocent; he erased all the evidence and so was termed as a cold blooded murderer.
Due to the intense media and public pressure the high court conducted the hearings within 25 days in the fast track courts. Manu Sharma was sentenced to life imprisonment on 20th December 2006. However, in the last two years, Manu Sharma was transferred to an open jail due to his good conduct; and was permitted to leave the prison at 6 a.m. and return by 6 p.m.; Manu Sharma was released from prison of Tihar on account of good behaviour on 6th June 2020. The premature release was permitted by Lt. Governor of Delhi.
The Delhi sentence review board ( SRB) suggested that Manu Sharma aged 49 yrs who survived 17 years in prison; had been out of pardon as a part of measures taken by the prisons across the country to avoid the crowding in covid 19 crisis.
The Jessica murder case is termed as a noteworthy case as many elite people were involved in this case. If the accused had controlled his anger, Jessica would have been alive today. Being the son of a politician; he didn’t have any fears of being caught and even dear of going to the jail. If the media would not have interfered in this case; Jessica would not have received justice till Today. The media gave a whole New turn to the case which lead to the life imprisonment of Manu Sharma.
The underlying message as given by this case is that the law must react to all the injustices by opting for amendments; foundational aspects, systematic overhauls as may be needed.
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