Hit and run case: State wants to appeal but salman seeks early trial
Sessions court today deferred the 2002 hit-and-run case involving actor Salman Khan to January 21 after prosecution sought time to file
Mumbai: A sessions court today deferred the 2002 hit-and-run case involving actor Salman Khan to January 21 after prosecution sought time to file an appeal in the Bombay High Court against its order for a fresh trial.
Prosecutor J V Kendralkar informed the court that the prosecution had written a letter to Law and Judiciary Ministry of the state government seeking permission to file an appeal.
As the Ministry’s response was still awaited, the state sought time. However, Salman’s lawyer Srikant Shivade urged for commencement of a fresh trial and pleaded the court to give a short date to the state for adjournment of the case.
Judge D W Deshpande then adjourned the case to January 21 and asked the prosecution to seek instructions from the state on filing the appeal in the High Court.
The court, on December 5, had ordered a fresh trial on the ground that witnesses had not been examined in the context of aggravated charge of culpable homicide which was invoked against the actor midway through the proceedings.
The judge had held that the trial would be held de novo (fresh) as the actor had not been given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses vis-a-vis the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder which attracts a 10-year sentence. The court had also fast-tracked the case.
The actor had earlier been tried by a magistrate for a lesser offence of causing death by negligence which entailed imprisonment of two years.
As the trial would be held afresh, the evidence adduced before a magistrate earlier would be discarded and all the witnesses who had appeared before would be examined and cross-examined afresh.
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 was made out against Salman and referred the matter to a sessions court, as cases under this offence are triable by a higher court.
A key witness Ravindra Patil, a police bodyguard of Salman who was in the car when the mishap happened, had said in a statement that the actor was warned by him not to drive rashly or else he would meet with an accident but his advice went unheeded.
However, the actor had pointed out contradictions in his statement earlier in the magistrate’s court.
As Patil passed away during the trial, he cannot be examined or cross-examined but his statement can be used in the fresh trial as evidence, said a lawyer.
The sessions court had on July 24 framed charges against Salman for culpable homicide.
Apart from section 304(2) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), the actor has also been charged under sections 279 (causing death by negligence), 337 (causing hurt by an act), 338 (causing grievous hurt), 427 (causing damage or mischief to property) of IPC, and provisions of Motor Vehicles Act and Bombay Prohibition Act.
On September 28, 2002, a Toyota Land Cruiser allegedly driven by Salman, had crushed a group of people sleeping on a pavement outside a bakery in suburban Bandra, killing one and injuring four.