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Jessica Lal Case: Top Court Clears Ballistic Expert Of Perjury Charge

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Jessica Lal Case: Top Court Clears Ballistic Expert Of Perjury Charge

The Supreme Court said a definite opinion in the case could be given only if the suspected firearm is available for examination.

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court has quashed the perjury proceedings initiated against a ballistic expert in the Jessica Lal murder case by the Delhi High Court in 2013 saying it was "unjust" to attribute any motive to him for changing his original stand.

A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur, while clearing PS Manocha of the charge, said he has been consistent that a definite opinion in the case could be given only if the suspected firearm is available for examination.

"We fail to understand how the stand taken by appellant (Manocha) attracts the offence of perjury. The appellant has all through been consistent that as an expert, a definite opinion in the case could be given only if the suspected firearm is available for examination.

 "It is nobody's case that scientifically an expert can give a definite opinion by only examining cartridges as to whether they have been fired from the same firearm. It was the trial court which insisted for an opinion without the presence of the firearm, and in that context only, the appellant gave the non-specific and indefinite opinion," the bench also comprising Justice Kurian Joseph said.

It observed that an expert, in such a situation, could not have given a different opinion and said, "It was unjust to attribute any motive to Mr Manocha that he changed his original stand in the written opinion."

"As a matter of fact, even in written opinion, appellant has clearly stated that a definite opinion in such a situation could be formed only with the examination of the suspected firearm, which we have already extracted in the beginning.

In his written statement, he had said that a conclusive opinion on the question was not possible in the absence of the firearm for testing in the laboratory while in his oral deposition before the trial court he said that the bullets appear to have been filed from different firearms.

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