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The Bombay High Court said Wednesday the prosecution had failed to bring material on record to prove beyond reasonable doubt that actor Salman Khan was driving the car in the hit-and-run incident of September 2002 that left one person dead. The court also said the prosecution failed to convince the court that he was under the influence of alcohol.
Justice A R Joshi, hearing the actor’s appeal against a five-year jail term handed out to him by a lower court, said there was doubt on “whether the accident had occurred due the bursting of tyre or if bursting of tyre took place due to the impact of accident”. The court is likely to conclude its order Thursday.
One person had died and four were injured when Khan’s Toyota Land Cruiser crashed into five men sleeping outside a bakery on Hill Road in Bandra in the early hours of September 28, 2002.
The court said Wednesday the fact that the actor was drunk was not there in the FIR filed by prosecution witness Ravindra Patil, Salman’s police bodyguard at that time who died in 2007. This particular detail was mentioned in a statement later recorded by Patil on October 1, 2002.
“There is nothing to bring on record why it (supplementary statement) was recorded,” said Justice Joshi.
Stating that Patil was not a “wholly reliable witness”, the court said there was a need for corroboration of his evidence with that of other witnesses.
“It is the considered view of the court that only this witness (Patil) said that the vehicle was driven by the accused. Apart from this witness, no other witness said that the accused was driving,” said the judge. The court also took a strong view of the non-examination of singer Kamaal Khan, Salman’s friend who was a witness to the accident. “Non-examination of Kamaal Khan is definitely detrimental to the case of prosecution. Adverse inference is to be drawn against prosecution for non-examination of Kamaal Khan,” said Justice Joshi.
In May this year, the actor was convicted in all charges against him by a sessions court. He had then appealed against the conviction in the Bombay High Court, which suspended his sentence.