Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the state government, told a bench headed by justice JS Khehar the Bombay High Court’s judgment was “perverse” and “improper” as the actor was drunk when he was driving the Land Cruiser that killed a person sleeping on the pavement and injured four others outside a bakery in Mumbai after a night out drinking on September 28, 2002. He said the actor very well knew he should not be driving and the theory that the car was being driven by Khan’s driver should be discarded.
“His defence was that the driver was driving the car… The driver appears 13 years after the accident. If the driver was driving the car, then the accused is guilty of shielding an offender… If a driver commits an accident, the first thing the owner should do is inform the police. Salman escaped from the spot,” he said.
The country’s top law officer Rohatgi also submitted that the trial court had rejected all the “theories” of the driver driving the car but the HC “discounted all the witnesses” and gave “wishy-washy reasons”.
According to the Maharashtra government, the statement of the injured was also discarded by the HC. The case is now listed for hearing on February 12.
The actor has already filed a caveat to ensure that no orders are passed in the case without hearing him. Senior counsel Kapil Sibal is representing Khan in the SC.
The Maharashtra government had moved the Supreme Court challenging the high court’s judgement of December 10, 2015, acquitting the actor.
On May 6, 2015 a sessions court had held the 50-year old actor as guilty of running over a man sleeping on the pavement and injuring four others. However, the HC overturned the trial court’s order and cancelled the five-year jail sentence on the ground that the prosecution had failed to establish “beyond reasonable” doubt that the actor was driving and was drunk at the time of the accident. The HC had also rejected as “wholly unreliable” the statement of eyewitness Ravindra Patil, Khan’s former police bodyguard, recorded by a magistrate in which he had accused the actor of driving under the influence of liquor. Patil died of tuberculosis in 2007.