In an appeal filed by Bollywood actor Salman Khan against his five-year sentence in the 2002 hit-and-run case, his lawyer told the Bombay High Court today that the prosecution had failed to examine eye-witness Kamaal Khan though he had appeared thrice before a trial court.
“If Kamaal Khan is put in the box, the entire evidence of police bodyguard late Ravindra Patil would be thrown away as he would demolish the prosecution case,” senior defence counsel Amit Desai argued before Justice A R Joshi who is presiding over the hearing of Salman’s appeal.
Kamaal Khan, a singer, is Salman’s family friend and was accompanying the actor on September 28, 2012 when they started from Galaxy Apartments at Bandra and went to Rain Bar at Vile Parle. After that, they went to J W Marriott hotel at Juhu-Tara Road. On returning home, Salman’s car had rammed into a shop in Bandra. One person was killed in the mishap and four others were injured.
Desai argued that the prosecution had not examined Kamaal Khan during the trials in Magistrate’s court and sessions court earlier and now in the Bombay High Court it had opposed Salman’s plea to place the testimony of this crucial witness.
“That is because if Kamaal is examined, truth would emerge as this witness would throw light on who was driving the car and hence the evidence of Ravindra Patil would have to be discarded,” Desai said.
Interestingly, both the sides agree that Kamaal Khan was in the car. Moreover, when Salman’s statement was recorded under section 313 of Cr.Pc after the trial, the actor had said that he was not driving the car, Desai said.
Besides, defence witness and Salman’s driver Ashok Singh had told the court that he was driving the car…the other witness (Ravindra Patil) has passed away…in that case, Kamaal’s statement is very important, Salman’s lawyer argued.
In another development, Public prosecutor and government pleader Sandeep Shinde submitted that there was no need to examine Kamaal Khan as a witness at this stage.
“We have proved our case beyond reasonable doubt and the appellant (Salman) was convicted by a Mumbai sessions court,” Shinde told the high court.
He also said that at this stage “adverse inference” can-not be drawn since Kamaal Khan had not been examined earlier by a magistrate’s court at Bandra and a Mumbai sessions court.
Desai hit out at the prosecution for saying that Kamaal was not available to them for 13 years in this case as a witness as he had gone abroad.
Kamaal Khan, a British citizen, has appeared before a magistrate’s court on three occasions in 2008– August 25, September 10 and November 12 — seeking permission to go to London where his mother was undergoing treatment, Salman’s lawyer said.
“He (Kamaal) was listed as witness number 47 in the sessions court…and on June 23, 2014, summons were issued to him on June 25…just two days time! Is this possible?,” Desai asked.
Desai argued that Kamaal is a British citizen and his London address remains the same, yet no summons were sent there. “Police went to the area mentioned in his address but did not go to the address he has mentioned when he had filed the bond to seek permission to go abroad,” he said.
Also, the prosecution has not made any attempt to get him (Kamaal) to appear in an Indian court “even by coercive means”, he said.
Desai argued that in 2003, a look-out notice was issued against Kamaal. This is not necessary for a witness as look- out notices are issued against suspected accused, he said.
“If a look-out notice is issued, the immigration department has details whenever he comes in or goes out,” he said and added that the prosecution has made no attempt to get the bond forfeited and issue non-bailable arrest warrant.
Arguments would continue on November 30.