His wife and son are avid fans of Salman Khan while he, as special public prosecutor, set out to secure a conviction. Pradeep Gharat, seeking the maximum punishment of 10 years, told the court, “Salman is followed by everyone. People should know what are the repercussions of such acts.”
Gharat took over the case in September 2014. “Twelve witnesses had already been examined when I took over,” says Gharat. After all these years of hearings and adjournments, Gharat said he was confident about the outcome.
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Gharat also has a film connection. He once played a judge in a Marathi film, Aai Thor Tuze Upakar. “The film went on to reach a silver jubilee,” he says. Gharat was legal adviser to the film’s director, who he says thought he could do a “better role” playing a character.
From financial fraud including the stamp scam involving Abdul Karim Telgi to cases of rape and murder, Gharat, 58, has handled several cases over three decades. He describes himself as India’s first prosecutor to have conducted a trial via videoconferencing, that of Telgi in 2004.
“He was never produced in the court since the trial began,” Gharat says, adding he got three police officials convicted for abetment. “They were sentenced to six, five and four years, respectively.”
Former senior police officer S S Puri, who had pitched for Gharat as prosecutor in the Telgi trial, says, “He was working as special prosecutor in an admiralty case and you required special expertise on that.” Puri headed the team probing the scam. “I think Gharat would have been one of the finest professors of law if not a lawyer. He had tremendous technical experience. His conviction rate speaks for itself,” he adds.
The prosecutor’s son Aditya calls his father a “real hard worker”. “He put all his effort into the hit-an-run case,” says Aditya, 29, who says he does not support Salman for the incident although he is a fan of the actor.
Gharat was born in the coastal town of Alibaug, to Dattatraya and Pratibha Gharat in 1957. His father worked at a private firm.
Gharat had no initial inclination to be a lawyer. He worked with a media house as a clerk for 12 years, then did a diploma in business administration. He eventually studied law at Mumbai’s Siddharth College.