The Bombay High Court on Monday said it would give its ruling on the applicability of culpable homicide charge against Bollywood star Salman Khan in the 2002 hit-and-run case and also on other key questions like the admissibility of the statement of the actor’s former body guard as evidence.
This was stated by Justice A.R. Joshi while giving dictation of the verdict in the open court in the appeal filed in the High Court by Khan against the May 6 judgement of a Mumbai Sessions court which sentenced him to five years jail term.
Justice Joshi said he would give a ruling on whether the statement of Ravindra Patil, an eye witness and former police bodyguard of Salman, was admissible as evidence under section 33 of Indian Evidence Act.
Salman contended that the charge of culpable homicide was not justified and wrongly invoked in the case. He also challenged the prosecution’s step of relying upon Patil’s statement in the trial court, saying this witness died and hence was not available for cross-examination.
The prosecution opposed Salman’s plea and justified invocation of culpable homicide charge against the actor saying he had driven the car in a rash and negligent manner under the influence of liquor on September 28, 2002, when he met with a mishap.
During the course of the judgement, the Judge said the High Court would also scrutinise other important issues including whether the deceased had been killed due to the impact of the car mishap or whether the car dropped off the hook of a crane, called to remove it, and fell accidentally on the victim.
The HC would also give a ruling on the “drunken” state of Salman Khan on the ill-fated day.
While the prosecution has argued that the actor had taken alcoholic drinks at Rain Bar and Restaurant at Vile Parle before meeting with the mishap in suburban Bandra, Salman has denied the charge saying evidence does not suggests this.
The Judge said that in the verdict he will also dwell on the issues such as why Kamaal Khan, singer-friend of Salman, who was with the actor in his car on the ill-fated day, was not examined.
Kamaal Khan as witness
The HC had recently >rejected Salman’s plea on issuing a directive to examine Kamaal Khan as witness . The Judge also said the other issue, which he would touch upon in his verdict, would be the improvement made by late Ravindra Patil in his statement before a magistrate.
Initially, in the FIR filed by him, Patil had not said anything incriminating about Salman. However, later, in a magistrate’s court, he gave a statement saying the actor was drunk and was driving recklessly and in great speed.
The Judge also said that the issue of not taking blood sample at Bhabha hospital, where Salman was first taken by police for pathologic test, would also be examined by him.
The Judge on Monday dwelt upon the prosecution’s claim and defence’s version on four injured persons — Muslim Niyamat Shaikh, Mannu Khan, Mohammed Salim Iqbal Pathan and Mohammed Adullah Shaikh.
Justice Joshi also touched upon the depostition of Salman’s friend Francis Fernandes who had asked the actor to leave the place of the mishap, though the prosecution alleged that Salman had run away from the spot.
Besides, the court referred to the testimony of Kalpesh Varma, parking attendant at J.W. Marriot Hotel where Salman had gone before he met with the mishap.
The Judge also mentioned the version of eye witness Ram Asare Pande who was at the accident spot. Pande had said in his evidence that he had seen four persons — the actor, his police bodyguard and two other persons.
Salman has argued that there were four persons in the car including his family driver Ashok Singh who was driving the car while prosecution claimed that there were only three persons — Salman, Kamaal Khan and Patil.
The Judge said that witness PW-3 (Mannu Khan) had testified that it seemed to him that Salman was drunk because he fell down twice, got up and left the scene.
The court observed that it appears that the first informant (Ravindra Patil) has lost sight of this when he filed the FIR as it does not mention the word ‘alcohol’.
Moreover, PW-3 i.e. Mannu Khan, has been examined 12 years after the incident. He (PW-3) has to be viewed in juxtaposition with the FIR, the Judge observed.
“The FIR is silent on the issue of the drunkenness of the appellant. This omission of witness cannot be considered as minor,” observed the Judge.
The dictation of the judgement would continue on Tuesday.
Salman did not attend the court as he is on bail while his sister Alvira was present.