The Maharashtra government on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that it has decided to move a plea against the acquittal of actor Salman Khan in connection with the 2002 hit-and-run case.
Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani informed Justices A S Oka and G S Patel that the government will move a Special Leave Petition to file the appeal against the actor’s acquittal from the five-year sentence.
The court had on Monday asked the government whether it planned to take action against erring police officers for dereliction of duty. And if it does, what would be the nature of action.
The government, however, Wednesday said the order of the HC single judge will be under challenge.
While acquitting the actor, Justice A R Joshi had on December 10 based his decision on various “loopholes” he found in the police’s investigation besides the delay in collection of blood samples from the spot.
There were two points raised by the judges after going through the 305 pages of Justice Joshi’s judgment. Firstly, they wanted to know if there were specific guidelines followed by the investigating agencies while collecting blood samples and other evidence from crime scene.
“Is there any set protocol on immediate collection of blood samples,” Justices Oka enquired with Vagyani.
The government lawyer Wednesday informed that the “golden period” is five to six hours within which the alcohol content in the driver’s blood remains intact and traceable.
However, there are no rules that provide for a time frame within which the blood samples are to be tested.
The court said specific rules will have to be framed when it comes to collection of blood samples and its preservation.
The court was hearing of a public interest litigation filed in 2002 by journalist Nikhil Wagle. He had then sought imposition of harsher legal provisions against Khan.
On December 10, Salman was given a clean chit in the case with the court observing that the main witness was ‘wholly unreliable’ and that there were discrepancies in the case. The HC observed that “strong suspicion of guilt cannot be used to hold a person guilty” in its verdict earlier this month. Overturning the order of a lower court, which had in May convicted the actor under charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sentenced him to a jail term of five years, Justice A R Joshi said this was “not a case where prosecution has successfully established its case of all its charges”.
In May, Sessions Judge D W Deshpande had found Khan guilty under all eight charges, including Section 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 337 and 338 (rash and negligent driving).
The case dates back to 13 years ago when the actor is accused of driving a car under the influence of alcohol and killing one and injuring four others in Bandra, Mumbai.