In a major setback to Bollywood actor Salman Khan, three witnesses in the 2002 hit-and-run case identified him in a sessions court saying they had seen him getting down from the car which had met with an accident in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002.
The witnesses were among the injured who were run over by the car when they were sleeping on a footpath near American Express Bakery on that day. The court is conducting the re-trial of this case after the charges of culpable homicide were added recently.
While one witness said he saw the actor getting down from the front door on the right hand side, the other said he had seen Salman Khan getting down from the driver’s seat. Another witness said the actor had got down from the vehicle but did not remember from which side he got down.
One person was killed and four people were injured in the incident after which police booked Salman Khan in this case on the charge of rash and negligent driving and other charges. Recently he was charged with an additional charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder which attracts a 10-year sentence.
The three witnesses who deposed on Tuesday (May 6) were Manu Khan, Mohammed Kalim Iqbal Pathan and Muslim Shaikh. All of them were workers of the bakery which was hit by the car.
The prosecution has alleged the Toyota Land Cruiser involved in the incident was driven by Salman who was under the influence of liquor. So far, four witnesses have deposed in the re-trial. One among them is a panch witness and the other three are eye witnesses. The prosecution led by Jagannath Kenjralkar would examine another three witnesses on May 19.
All the witnesses told Judge D W Deshpande that they saw the actor getting down from the car. He was held by the people who were shouting “nichey utro” (get down). Salman Khan was held by the people but another person, who also got down from the vehicle, said he was a policeman and hence they released the actor who ran away from the spot, they said.
During cross-examination, Salman’s lawyer Srikant Shivade alleged that the witnesses were tutored by police to say they had seen Salman getting down from the car.
However, the witnesses dismissed Shivade’s argument.They also described as “false” the allegations levelled by the defence lawyer that they had implicated Salman only because police told them they would get a huge compensation if they named him.
One of the witnesses Muslim Shaikh was confronted with his earlier statement of 2006 made before a magistrate wherein he had not stated a word about Salman getting down from the car.
To this, Shaikh replied he had told the magistrate about Salman coming out of the car, but could not say why that part was not recorded in his statement recorded by the court.
Shaikh said he had told the magistrate that Salman had alighted from the car and was held by people until his police bodyguard (Ravindra Patil) intervened and requested them to release him. However, Shaikh was not able to explain why this does not find a mention in his statement given to magistrate earlier.
To a question by Salman’s lawyer, the witness said, “It is not correct to say that I had not seen anyone getting down from the car”.
The lawyer told the court that this question was put to the witness because he had not told the magistrate earlier about Salman getting down from the car and is saying this for the first time today in trial court.
Shaikh denied allegations that he was not aware about Salman’s presence at the site of accident and was told later by police that the actor was driving the car.
Another witness, Mohammed Kalim Iqbal Pathan, said he saw Salman getting down from the right side of the car and identified him in the court.
In the cross-examination, the witness said he had not read about the mishap in newspapers but heard people saying that the actor was involved.
The third witness Manu Khan also identified Salman as the person who had alighted from the car.
Khan said he was aware that some cars have steering wheel on the left side and others on the right, but could not remember the side where the steering wheel of the car involved in the mishap was located.
The witness said he could not remember from which side Salman got down from the vehicle.
Lawyers, law students and members of general public had gathered in large numbers in the court to have a glimpse of the film star.
At one stage, the judge told the people to move away so that Salman was able to see and hear the witnesses tendering evidence in the court. This brought a smile to the
According to the prosecution, the actor had run over his Toyota Land Cruiser on a group of persons sleeping on a footpath outside a bakery in suburban Bandra, killing one and injuring four others, on September 28, 2002.
On December 5 last year, the court had ordered a fresh trial on the ground that the witnesses had not been examined in the context of aggravated charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which was invoked against the actor midway through the case.
The charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder attracts a 10-year sentence. The actor had earlier been tried by a magistrate for a lesser offence of causing death by negligence, which entailed an imprisonment of two years.
The case, dragging on for over a decade, had taken a twist earlier this year when the magistrate, after examining 17 witnesses, held that the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was made out against Salman and referred the matter to a sessions court, as cases under this offence are tried by a higher court.
Salman Khan, sporting a French beard, dressed in blue jeans and a full-sleeve shirt, was sitting in the dock while his two sisters Alvira and Arpita sat on a bench in a jam-packed court room.
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