The Bombay High Court is slated to deliver its verdict this week on an appeal filed by actor Salman Khan against the five year sentence awarded to him in the 2002 hit-and-run case.
The arguments in the case concluded yesterday and Judge A R Joshi said he would begin dictation of judgement on the appeal from tomorrow.
A sessions court had on May 6 convicted the 49-year-old actor on the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under IPC and other offences.
An aggrieved Salman filed an appeal in the High Court which granted him bail before hearing arguments in the case.
It is the case of the prosecution that Salman had consumed liquor at ‘Rain Bar and Restaurant’ at Vile Parle before ramming his Toyota lexus car into a shop at suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002. One person died in the mishap and four others were injured.
The prosecution has argued that there were three persons in the car — Salman, his singer friend Kamaal Khan and the actor’s police bodyguard Ravindra Patil, who passed away during the trial in 2007.
Relying upon the statement of Patil, the prosecution argued that Salman was driving the car. However, it did not examine Kamaal Khan who has since then gone abroad.
On the other hand, Salman’s lawyer Amit Desai has argued that Salman was not driving the car and that it was his family driver Ashok Singh who was behind the wheel. He said the trial court had erred in not accepting the testimony of Ashok Singh, who deposed as defence witness saying that he was driving the car on the ill-fated day and not the actor.
While the prosecution argued that Ashok Singh was a ‘got up’ witness and had come before the court after 13 years, Salman denied the charge and said his driver had appeared at the fag end of the trial because he was a defence witness.
The prosecution alleged that Salman drove the vehicle throughout – from his Galaxy Apartments residence at Bandra to Rain Bar at Vile Parle and from there to J W Marriot Hotel at Juhu and then to the spot of accident at Bandra.
Prosecutors S S Shinde and Purnima Kantharia further argued that at Marriot Hotel, the parking attendant had seen Salman occupying the driver’s seat. In his testimony, the parking attendant said the actor had closed the car’s door after giving him tip.
According to prosecution, witnesses at the accident spot had seen Salman coming out of the driver’s seat. They also said that Salman ran away from the spot after the accident. The prosecution also alleged that the actor was missing from his residence for several hours after the mishap.
Later, when Salman was arrested and produced before a doctor at J J Hospital, he smelt of alcohol. At the hospital his blood samples were collected by doctors and sent to a forensic lab in Mumbai which later confirmed that he had taken alcohol beyond permissible limits, the prosecution submitted.
The prosecution also argued that there were no need to examine Kamaal Khan who was travelling with the actor. It also said it was not necessary to make actor’s brother Sohail also a witness, as demanded by Salman’s lawyer.
As per the prosecution, Salman’s car had rammed A-I Bakery-American Laundry because of uncontrollable speed as the actor was under the influence of liquor. It further said that the victim had died because of the impact of the car.
Salman’s lawyer had argued that the victim had died because the crane, which was called to tow the vehicle, dropped the car from its hook and the car came crashing down on the victim who was killed because of the impact.
He argued that there were four persons in the car and not three, as submitted by the prosecution. The fourth one was Salman’s family driver Ashok Singh who was at the wheel.
Desai further argued that Salman had gone to Rain Bar, but did not consume alcohol as he was off drinks and had a shoot the next day.
The defence lawyer argued that Kamaal Khan should have been examined as a witness as he could have thrown light on the incident, including who was driving the car and whether the actor had taken drinks. He also argued that the version given by driver Ashok Singh is correct.
The actor’s lawyer also argued that Salman did not run away from the spot, but was asked by his friend and eyewitness Francis Fernandes to leave the place.
After the incident, driver Ashok Singh went to Bandra police station to tell the truth, but his statement was not recorded and after a few hours Salman himself went to the police station and surrendered.
Desai argued that the correct procedure of collecting blood samples of Salman was not followed as the doctor had taken two blood samples, while the chemical analyser had received only one sample. Moreover, the process of examination of blood samples at central forensic lab in Kalina here was not proper.
Salman’s lawyer submitted that Ashok Singh was driving the car and there was a tyre burst because of which the vehicle deviated from the road and hit the pavement. The victim died as he was crushed when the car fell off while being lifted by a crane. The car could have been tampered with while it was in custody of Bandra police, he alleged.
Salman is on bail and did not attend the hearing on his appeal, though his sister Alvira Khan regularly came to the court every day.