April 22, 2015 1:45:23 am
“On May 6, at 11.15 am sharp,” announced Sessions Judge D W Deshpande to a packed court room at Bombay City and Civil Sessions court as he set the date and time for the final judgment in the 2002 hit-and-run case involving Bollywood actor Salman Khan, who stands charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and other offences.
The trial, which began in 2003, saw some fresh arguments this month in the 12-year-old case, during which 27 prosecution witnesses were cross-examined. In comparison, only one defence witness has been cross-examined. Both defence and the prosecution concluded their final arguments on April 20.
The judge initially proposed May 5 as the date for the verdict, but after special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat sought a different date due to a personal commitment, he changed it to May 6.
The prosecution has sought to rest its case claiming that the actor was driving the car at the time of the accident and that he knew his act of drink driving could cause grievous injury.
Ravidra Patil, the actor’s deceased police bodyguard and the complainant in the case, had stated that Khan was in an inebriated condition when he rammed his Toyota Land Cruiser into a bakery in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002, killing one and injuring four others.
The prosecution also claimed that the actor did not possess a valid driving licence or a liquor permit. Khan’s “conduct” after the incident was also questioned by the prosecution, which claimed he ran away from the spot soon after the accident without helping the victims.
The actor’s lawyer, Shrikant Shivade, has claimed that a “tyre burst” had caused the “unfortunate” accident. He also claimed that the fatality was caused after the accident, when the vehicle slipped off the crane lifting it. Shivade also argued that Khan’s blood samples was tampered with, which led to alcohol content being found in it.
Of the 27 prosecution witnesses, a security guard was declared hostile after he denied having seen the actor on the accident spot. Khan’s driver Ashok Singh, the only defence witness, deposed in the case for the first time in over 12 years after the mishap, claiming it was he, and not the actor, who was driving the car on the night of the accident. Singh has been employed as a driver with Khan’s father for 20 years.
The court on Tuesday also disposed of contempt of court applications made by Khan against an inspector of Bandra police station for recreating the crime scene and to two city newspapers for publishing photographs of the same. These papers gave an undertaking that they would not run reports on anything except factual court proceedings in the matter till the court delivered its judgment. The inspector too apologised in the court.
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