Summons not served to 24 of the 39 prosecution witnesses to the incident

While Nooriya Haveliwala was convicted for drunken driving within two years of the incident, the Salman Khan hit-and-run case has been dragging on for a decade now, with various attempts allegedly being made to scuttle the trial. This suggests that there is a nexus between the police and the Bollywood actor, former IPS officer and activist Y.P. Singh alleged on Friday.

Referring to the March 16, 2006 Roznama (proceeding sheet) of the court, Mr. Singh pointed out that 24 of the 39 prosecution witnesses to the incident were not served the summons. Of the rest, 12 did not turn up despite being served the summons and two refused to accept the summons. As a result, only one prosecution witness came to testify in court.

“The police are responsible for serving the summons,” Mr. Singh said. Citing the Roznama he pointed out that when witnesses were present in court, the “special public prosecutor Mr. Nagrale dropped them.”

On an important witness, Salman’s former bodyguard Ravindra Patil, now deceased, the proceedings notes of 2006 state: “According to [the] police report, they could not execute the non-bailable warrant issued against complainant, Mr. Patil, though they made their best efforts.”

“The special PP filed [an application] for dropping witnesses,” the record, dated April 12, 2006, states. With respect to a witness, Mannu Malai Khan, a 2007 proceeding record notes that “despite repeated efforts he could not be traced.”

“All witnesses are from Bandra. The case is with the Bandra police and the court is also in Bandra. And still the witnesses could not be traced? This is a mockery of law,” Mr. Singh said.

Another “tactic” used by the police to “delay” the trial, alleged Mr. Singh, was to summon medical officers who had nothing to do with the case to testify.

The Roznama of March 30, 2007 notes that medical officer Avinash Dhale, who was present in court, was “not a concerned medical officer pertaining to the injury certificate and post-mortem report … So Dhale is also sent back on the submission of the additional public prosecutor [APP].”

The proceeding record of 2008 also notes how medical officer Mr. Narvekar was “not the concerned medical officer of examination.” The same record also says, “It appears the APP in charge of this case is not appearing regularly.”

The police only got the concerned doctor two years later on September 4, 2010, Mr. Singh alleged, and said how the prosecution examined only 16 of the 47 witnesses in the seven years since the trial started.

Calling these instances a case of corruption and an example of how the powerful make a mockery of the legal process, he demanded a high-level inquiry from the State Anti-Corruption Bureau into the issue of summons, “dereliction of duty” on the part of the police and “misuse of position” by them. He also demanded that the police should immediately move court for the cancellation of Mr. Khan’s bail.

“It is a case where the prosecution and the accused have become friends. Despite witnesses becoming untraceable and hostile, the police never sought cancellation of his bail on the grounds that he was using his powerful position to influence witnesses,” the IPS officer-turned-activist said.

Mr. Singh questioned how Mr. Khan, while being an accused in a police case, could be invited to perform at the ‘Umang’ police show early this year. “He is an accused and he is dancing at the event and getting friendly with police officers,” the former IPS officer remarked.

When asked to comment on Mr. Singh’s allegations, Additional Commissioner of Police (West) Vishwas Nangre Patil told The Hindu, “There has been no official communication in this respect. It is an old case. I have to study it. I will check the matter.”