A sessions court today reserved its order till March 3 on a plea of the prosecution in the 2002 hit-and-run case seeking a direction to actor Salman Khan to produce his driving licence to prove the charge that he was driving car at the time of mishap without valid papers.
After hearing arguments on the application, Judge D W Deshpande said he would give his order on March 3.
Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat argued that Khan did not possess a license when his car ran over people sleeping on the pavement in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four.
He (Khan) obtained a driving licence only in 2004, as per the record available with Regional Transport Office, said the prosecution.
The actor has denied that he was driving the car at the time. He has also disputed the RTO record. His lawyer, Srikant Shivade, opposed the prosecution’s application today, saying it was not maintainable.
Khan’s lawyer opposed the prosecution’s application saying it violated the fundamental right against exploitation enshrined in the Constitution as it had asked the accused to produce documents incriminating him. He argued that the prosecution should prove its case that Khan was not holding driving licence without asking him to produce it.
Earlier, a Regional Transport Officer had deposed in the court saying that Khan did not possess a driving licence when his car met with an accident in 2002. He also produced office records to show that Khan had obtained licence only in 2004, two years after the mishap.
In a related development, prosecution argued on its application seeking to bring on record statements given to a Magistrate by two crucial witnesses. One was Ravindra Patil, police bodyguard of Khan at the relevant time and Dr Sanap who had conducted post mortem of a victim killed in the mishap.
While Patil died during the course of trial, Dr Sanap has settled down in USA. Both are not available to prosecution at this stage and hence their statements should be taken on record, said prosecutor Gharat. Khan’s lawyer admitted the death certificate of Patil but disputed its contents which said he had passed away due to Tuberculosis.
Earlier, the trial was conducted by a Magistrate but when the aggravated charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was added, the case was transferred to sessions court and a fresh trial is being held.
As the trial is being conducted afresh in the sessions court, the prosecution wants to bring on record the evidence of both these crucial witnesses. The evidence includes their deposition as well as cross-examination by defence before a Magistrate.
The police bodyguard of Khan, Ravindra Patil, who had lodged a complaint in this case soon after the mishap, had given a statement to the Magistrate earlier that he had warned Khan not to drive in a rash or negligent manner or else he would meet with an accident.
He had also alleged that the actor was under the influence of liquor, a charge Khan has denied.
Khan’s lawyer Srikant Shivade argued that prejudice would be caused to his client if the court allows Patil’s statement recorded earlier by a Magistrate to come on record in the de novo (fresh) trial being conducted now.
However, prosecutor Pradeep Gharat argued that no prejudice would be caused to Khan if the evidence tendered by Patil is taken on record by the court.
Gharat said the accused can take a defence at the time of final arguments and can also confront the investigating officer in cross examination with regard to Patil’s evidence.
The prosecutor cited several judgements to support his argument that the statement of Patil and Dr Sanap can be taken on record.
The court allowed Shivade to continue with his arguments on March 7 on the application filed by prosecution to take on record the statements of the two witnesses.
On September 28, 2002, the actor’s car had rammed into a bakery in suburban Bandra and ran over people sleeping on the pavement outside, killing one and injuring four.
The case, dragging on for over a decade, took a twist when a city Magistrate, after examining 17 witnesses, held that the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was made out against the 49-year-old actor, and referred the case to the sessions court.
The charge of culpable homicide attracts a 10-year sentence. Earlier the charge against Salman was causing death by negligence, which entails imprisonment of up to two years.