Salman Khan hit-and-run case: court to deliver verdict on May 6
If declared, he may face imprisonment of up to 10 years.
On Tuesday The Sessions Court said it would deliver judgment on May 6 in the 2002 hit-and-run case against actor Salman Khan. One person was killed and four were injured after Salman’s SUV ran over the stairs of the American Express Laundry in the intervening night of September 27 and 28, 2002.
“On May 6 at 11.15 sharp,” Judge D.W. Deshpande said in a packed court room. Later, he placed on record his appreciation of the prosecution and defence lawyers for their co-operation during the trial.
He had proposed May 5 for the verdict, but Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat cited some important personal commitment. Thereafter, the judge posted the judgment for May 6.
Till now, 27 witnesses have been examined by the prosecution. One of them, Sachin Kadam, was declared hostile after he backtracked, saying he did not see the actor at the accident spot.
In his deposition before the Sessions Court in June last, he said: “It is not correct that I had seen the incident, and I also saw Salman Khan getting down from the car.”
Kadam was working as a security guard at Hotel Neelsagar, a restaurant opposite the accident spot.
The other prosecution witnesses told the court that the accident was caused by Salman’s car, and that they saw him get out of the driver’s seat. A witness told the court that Salman was so drunk that he fell down twice after getting down from the car before running away from the spot. According to medical reports, 0.062 per cent alcohol content was found in Salman’s blood sample, which is double the permissible limit.
The prosecution sealed its case by submitting final arguments running into over 29 pages, which claimed that the actor was driving the car at the time of the mishap, and had knowledge that his act of drunken driving could cause grievous injury. It said the actor did not possess a valid driving licence, or a liquor permit. It told the court that the accused was absconding after the accident, and had to be searched for an hour-and=a-half, after which he was brought to the police station. It noted that Salman ran away from the spot without helping the victims.
While the prosecution examined 27 witnesses, the defence produced only one witness, who made a sensational claim that he was on the wheels at the time of the accident. Ashok Singh, for the first time in over 12 years after the accident, said he was driving the car. Explaining the chronology of events, he said he was driving the car when the front left tyre burst. “I tried turning the steering, but it got hard. I tried applying the brakes, but the vehicle had climbed the stairs of the laundry,” he told the court.
Salman Khan too, in a statement recorded before the court under the provisions of Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code, denied he was driving the car or that he was drunk. Through the final arguments, the defence claimed that he was not drunk at the time of the accident, that he was not driving the car at that time, that his car was not speeding and it was going at a speed of around 40 kmph, and that he did not run away from the spot.
On the last day, Salman’s lawyer Shrikant Shivade said that since the actor was not driving the car at the time of the accident, the question of whether he was drunk or whether he had a valid licence did not arise.
He further said the prosecution should have produced fingerprint reports, which would have been clinching evidence about the person who was driving the car at the time of the accident. “The prosecution had collected fingerprint samples from the actor. Forensic experts too were present at the spot,” he said. He also claimed that the prosecution, on purpose, destroyed some crucial evidence, including the parking tag of JW Marriott hotel.
Salman has been booked under Sections 279 (rash driving), 304 (Part II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 134 (abetment of assault) and some other Sections of the Indian Penal Code, and Sections of the Motor Vehicle Act. If convicted, he may face imprisonment of up to 10 years.
Contempt petitions disposed
The Sessions court also disposed of two contempt applications filed by the actor and the prosecution against two media houses on Monday. Salman and prosecution had moved the contempt petitions claiming that reports in two famous tabloids in the city were set to damage their cases.
On Tuesday, both newspapers tendered unconditional apology to the court. They further gave an undertaking stating that they will not run reports on anything except factual court proceedings in the matter, till the court delivered its judgment.
The prosecution also argued that a tabloid’s two-page interview with the wife of Ashok Singh was in favour of the defence. The defence rejected this claim.
The Special Public Prosecutor said such reports affected the trial.
Timeline of the case:
- September 28:Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s Toyota Land Cruiser rams a roadside bakery in Bandra West, close to his seafront home in Galaxy Apartments. Four people sleeping outside the bakery are injured; one dies later.
- October 21:Salman charged under Section 304 II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
- October 24:Salman rearrested; secures bail from a Sessions Court.
- March:Salman challenges the application of Section 304 II of the IPC.
- May:Court rejects Salman’s application and asks the magistrate’s court to frame charges under the section 304 II of the IPC.
- June:Salman appeals in the Bombay High Court, which holds that the section is not applicable in the case.
- October:The state challenges the High Court order in the Supreme Court.
- December:Supreme Court rules that the magistrate should, after perusing the evidence, decide whether to invoke the section 304 II.
- October:The Bandra metropolitan magistrate’s Court frames charges against the actor under section 304 I (rash and negligent driving) and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.
- May 22:A chemical analysis report suggests that Salman Khan was drunk at the time of the accident.
- March:The prosecution seeks enhanced charges against Salman.
- December 2012:The Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate Court rules that a case has been made out under Sec. 304 II and commits the trial to the Mumbai Sessions Court.
- March:Salman files a revision application with the Sessions Court, challenging the lower court order.
- June 24:The sessions court rejects Salman’s application, paving the way for applying the stringent section.
- July 23:The Mumbai Sessions court frames charges against Salman invoking the enhanced charge of ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder.’
- December:The Mumbai Sessions Court orders a fresh trial against the actor and with recording of fresh evidence from all witnesses who had also deposed before the Metropolitan Magistrate court.
- April, 2014:First witness Samba Gowda deposes in the re-trial and it continues before the Sessions Court with regular hearings.
- March 25:Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat closed his case against Salman after examining 27 witnesses during the re-trial.
- April 20:Defence counsel Shrikant Shivade forcefully argues against prosecution charges and closes its arguments.
- April 20:Mumbai Additional Sessions Judge D.W. Deshpande sets date for verdict.