When a court let the accused walk in the Jessica Lall murder case, TOI raised a call for justice. In response to the ‘No one killed Jessica’ campaign, thousands of people poured into the streets to take up the cry. Read on to find out how the campaign helped deliver justice.
The shocking murder of model Jessica Lall at point blank range on the night of April 29, 1999, at the upscale Tamarind Court, a restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani, while she was bartending for extra earnings, was an open and shut case. Many saw the shooting, police identified the murderer as Manu Sharma, the son of a former Union minister. There were witnesses.
But a bigger shock awaited. Witness after witness turned hostile, the prosecution’s case fell flat as celebrated lawyer Ram Jethmalani went about demolishing the case to defend the Union minister’s son and his two accomplices Vikas Yadav, son of Rajya Sabha member D P Yadav and a cola company executive Amardeep Singh Gill.
Times of India’s dogged pursuit of the shoddy investigation that turned the case shaky and ended with the accused acquitted by additional sessions judge S L Bhayana, culminated in a historic headline that captured both the outrage and the seemingly free license to kill enjoyed by India’s powerful—No One Killed Jessica on February 22, 2006. The Jessica Lall killing was no ordinary murder.
Over the next few months, as the case went into appeal, Times of India’s reporters parsed through every strand of the case, forcing investigators and the courts to really, just, do their job—We asked the questions. We joined the dots. We pointed to the gaps. We pursued the quest for justice. Living up to the trust society and readers invested in us, just doing an honest day’s work.
In December 2006, exactly 300 days later, Delhi HC quashed the verdict to pronounce Manu Sharma as the killer of Jessica Lall. The Times of India welcomed the verdict but continued to highlight the omissions and commissions in the state machinery, reporting right alongside that the convict son of a senior police officer had jumped law and disappeared.
Times of India reported without break shenanigans of the powerful to escape the long arm of law with as much diligence, chase and impact in other high-profile murder cases, from the Priyadarshini Mattoo killing, the Nitish Kataria case, and of course the sensational tandoor murder case.