The Sessions Court announced it would deliver a final decision on May 6 on the hit-and-run case against Salman Khan. One person was killed and four were injured after the actor’s SUV ran over the stairs of the American Express Laundry on the night of September 28, 2002.
Judge D.W. Deshpande proposed May 5 for the verdict to be announced but Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat sited important personal commitment. Therefore, the judge postponed for May 6.
27 prosecution witness have been examined by the prosecution. One witness, Sachin Kadam, a security guard was declared hostile after denying having seen Khan at the accident spot. In his deposition before the Sessions Court last June, he said: “It is not correct that I had seen the incident, and I also saw Salman Khan getting down from the car.”
Khan’s driver Ashok Singh – the only defence witness – dismissed in the case for the first time in 12 years after the mishap, claiming it was he, 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. Explaining the situation, Singh 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.
Other prosecution witnesses told the court the accident was cause by Khan’s car, stating that they saw him get out of the driver’s seat. One witness told the court Khan was heavily under the influence of alcohol so much that he fell twice after getting out the car before running away from the spot. According to medical reports, 0.062 per cent alcohol content was found in Khan’s blood sample, which is double the permissible limit.
The prosecution concluded the case after submitting final arguments running over 29 pages, stating Khan was driving the car at the time of the accident, with knowledge that his drunken driving could cause grievous injury. It is also claimed the accused did not possess a valid driving licence, or a liquor permit. It also told the courts the actor vanished after the accident, and had to be searched for an hour-and-a-half, after which Khan was taken to the police station. He is also said to have not helped any of the victims.
In a statement recorded before the court under the provisions of Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Khan denied he was driving the car or that he was drunk. The defence argued he was not drunk at the time of the accident, nor was he driving at the time. He also argued went on to argue Khan’s car was not speeding over 40 kmph or run away from the scene.
Khan’s lawyer Shrikant Shivade said since Khan 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 stated, the prosecution should have produced fingerprint reports – assuring evidence who was driving the car.
“The prosecution had collected fingerprint samples from the actor. Forensic experts too were present at the spot,”
Shivade also claimed the prosecution, destroyed some crucial evidence purposely, including the parking tag of JW Marriott hotel.
Khan has been charged under Indian Penal Code Sections 279 (rash and negligent driving), 304 (Part II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 134 (abetment of assault), 337 & 338 (causing hurt by act endangering life and causing grievous hurt) and Sections 427 (mischief causing damage to property).
Also under Sections of the Motor Vehicle Act Sections 34 (a), (b) read with 181 (driving vehicle in contravention of rules) and 185 (driving at great speed after consuming alcohol) with punishment of cancellation of driving license; and sections of the Bombay Prohibition Act dealing with driving under the influence of alcohol.
If convicted, Khan may face imprisonment of up to 10 years.