Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: Tightening its grip on hostile witnesses, the Delhi High Court has directed them to inform it within two weeks why they retracted their police statements during the trial of the Jessica Lal murder case.

The matter will come up for hearing on February 19.

When three of the 29 witnesses summoned failed to appear on Thursday, the court issued non-bailable arrest warrants, forcing them to surrender when it resumed hearing after lunch.

Of the 32 witnesses who turned hostile, three died during the trial.

While convicting the former Haryana Minister Venod Sharma's son Siddharth Vashishtha alias Manu Sharma of the murder, and holding Vikas Yadav, son of the former Rajya Sabha member D.P. Yadav, and Amardeep Singh Gill, former executive with a multinational, guilty of destroying evidence, the Bench last year summoned the witnesses to show cause why they should not be prosecuted for retracting their police statements.

Actor Shyan Munshi, Andaleeb Sehgal, a friend of the former Union Minister Natwar Singh's son Jagat Singh, and ballistic expert Prem Sagar Manocha, who tendered evidence contrary to his own report about the examination of empties of .22 bore cartridges recovered from the scene of the crime in south Delhi, are among the witnesses who appeared on Thursday.