A manager of liquor bar in Juhu on Monday identified Salman Khan in a Mumbai court, saying the actor had come to the restaurant with friends hours before his car was involved in an accident in 2002, but said he was not sure whether the Bollywood actor had taken drinks.
The prosecution’s case is that the actor had taken drinks in “Rain Bar” along with his friends and was allegedly under the influence of liquor on September 28, 2002, when his car rammed into a bakery in suburban Bandra killing one person and injuring four others.
“Salman’s group had ordered drinks and snacks but I am not sure whether Salman had consumed drinks himself as the order had been taken by a waiter and not me,” Rizwan, who was the manager of “Rain Bar” at the relevant time, told the court of Sessions Judge D W Deshpande.
As the restaurant was full, Salman and his brother Sohail Khan were standing in front of service counter. After some time they occupied a table and ordered drinks and snacks, Rizwan said during examination.
“I saw Salman holding a glass but it was full with a colourless liquid like water,” said the Manager.
Asked if it was liquor, Rizwan said he was not sure because the order had been taken down by a waiter.
Rizwan further said that he had escorted the group to the main door of the restaurant when they were leaving the bar between 1.15 am to 1.30 a.m.
“However, Salman was not smelling of liquor and he was also walking like a normal person,” said the manager in reply to a question put by prosecutor Jagannath Kenjralkar.
Rizwan was shown bills of the particular table which was occupied by Salman and his group. He identified the bills saying that these belonged to “Rain Bar”.
During cross-examination by Salman’s lawyer Srikant Shivade, Rizwan said that from his cabin he could not see who was standing at the counter as the lights in the restaurant were dim. He further said it is not possible to say who was consuming drinks and having snacks.
Earlier a waiter of the same bar had identified Salman coming to the restaurant with friends. He had also said that he had not noticed the actor consuming drinks, although his group had ordered.
Both these witnesses were examined by the prosecution to convince the court that the actor had consumed drinks before the mishap on the ill-fated day.
Another witness, Ramashree Pandey, who owns a dairy shop near the American Bakery when Salman’s car had met with an accident, said he saw the actor getting down from the front seat of the vehicle.
Salman’s bodyguard Ravindra Patil (now dead), was already standing outside, he said.
“I saw people running towards the bakery and heard their shouts, “accident hua hai — hua hai” (accident has happened). My shop is located close to the American Bakery where people sleep on the footpath in the night,” Pandey said.
“When I reached the accident spot, about 50 to 60 people had gathered there. Some people were beneath the car and I could hear their voices crying for help,” he said.
The left front door of car was stuck in the shutter of laundry which could not be opened as it was jammed. People were trying to pull the car from the other front door. There was hue and cry on the spot and people around were in an angry mood. They got violent and started throwing stones at the car, Pandey said in reply to a question.
“I was standing 15 feet away from the car. I saw Salman getting down from the car. There was no one else sitting on the front side of the car after Salman moved out from car,” the witness further said.
“I saw only one man coming out from the front side of the car and he was Salman. At that time, his bodyguard, Ravindra Patil was standing outside, said Pandey.
Later, police was called and a crane lifted the car from the spot. The injured were sitting near the place of accident. People had pulled out the car from the spot but Salman was not present when this was being done, Pandey said.
Pandey further said he saw a man under the car but could not say whether he was dead at that time. On the next day, he learnt about the offence against Salman Khan from the newspapers, the witness said during cross-examination.
Salman, attired in jeans and light grey full sleeves shirt, was sitting on a bench in the dock. He was feeling drowsy at times. His sister Alvira was present in the court.
Altogether eight witnesses have deposed so far in the re-trial which would continue on Tuesday.
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.