The sessions court here allowed the prosecution in the 2002 hit-and-run case to rely upon the statement of Ravindra Patil, an eye-witness who was actor Salman Khan’s bodyguard and who died during the trial.
Patil, a police constable, died on October 3, 2007 in the midst of the earlier trial before the magistrate.
The prosecution had said that his statement, recorded by the magistrate, should be taken on record in this trial which is being conducted afresh after the charge of culpable homicide was pressed against the actor.
Patil had said in his statement that he was sitting beside Khan (when the accident had happened) and had warned him not to drive rashly but Khan did not heed the advice.
Patil, who was the one to lodge the complaint after the mishap, had also said that the actor was under the influence of alcohol then.
On September 28, 2002, Khan’s car had rammed into a bakery in suburban Bandra, killing one person and injuring four others who were sleeping on the pavement.
Judge D W Deshpande allowed both the prosecution and the defence to reply on Patil’s statement. He said that opportunity would be given to Khan to explain the circumstances in which Patil made the statement.
The accused would also be given the opportunity to cross-examine the investigation officer in the context of evidence given by Patil and to clarify his own stand on it in the concluding defence argument, it said.
The value of Patil’s evidence would be decided only later and not at this stage, the court said.
Khan’s lawyer, advocate Srikant Shivade, had opposed the application filed by the prosecutor Pradeep Gharat, saying that it would cause prejudice to his client.
However, the court said that opportunity would be given to the accused to question the investigation officer on Patil’s evidence and also explain under what situation the witness had given the statement to the magistrate.
The court also allowed the prosecution to rely on the statement of Dr Sanap who had conducted autopsy of the accident victim. Sanap now lives in the USA and therefore is not available here.
Salman Khan’s lawyer said he will not claim that Dr Sanap’s evidence would cause any prejudice. He also accepted the post-mortem report.
In another development, Ravindra Patil’s brother, also a police constable, deposed today, saying that Patil died on October 3, 2007. He was not keeping well and had been suspended for remaining absent from work for a long time.
The prosecution examined him to bring on record the fact that Patil is dead.
The court asked the investigation officers to depose on March 12 and 13 on the evidence recorded by them.
The case, dragging on for over a decade, took a twist last year when a city magistrate, after examining 17 witnesses, had held that the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was made out against the actor and referred the case to the sessions court.
The charge of culpable homicide attracts a 10-year sentence. Earlier, Khan was charged with causing death by negligence, which provides imprisonment of up to two years.