Mumbai: A police officer, who had registered an FIR against actor Salman Khan in 2002 in the hit-and-run case, informed the trial court today that Khan was not found at the accident spot after the mishap on that day or at his house, which was barely 200 metres away. “When I reached the spot, I did not find Khan. I then went to his house in nearby Galaxy apartments but even there the accused was not traced,” said Rajendra Kadam, one of the investigating officers who had registered a case against the Bollywood actor for alleged rash and negligent driving.
Khan is charged with ramming his white Land Cruiser car into the American Express bakery shop in suburban Bandra, killing one person and injuring four people who were sleeping on the pavement on September 28, 2002. According to the prosecution, Khan was allegedly under the influence of liquor while driving the car and had left the spot as soon as he met with the accident. After a few hours, he had surrendered himself at the police station. In the court today, Khan, attired in blue jeans and blue shirt, sat in the front row along with his sister Alvira. The 49-year-old actor keenly watched the proceedings and talked to his lawyer Srikant Shivade occasionally.
In a related development, trial Judge D W Deshpande, on a defence plea, asked Bandra police station to produce case diaries tomorrow to go through the entries made therein by the investigation officer on the first three days from the date of mishap. The defence lawyer wants to scrutinise the entries to cross examine the police officer.
Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat said he had no objection to the production of the case diaries provided they were exhibited as evidence in the court. Kadam informed the court that he was on night duty on the day of the mishap. He got a telephone call about the accident and rushed to the spot on a motorbike along with a police constable.
“On reaching there, I found people had gathered at the spot and they were pushing around Khan’s police bodyguard Ravindra Patil. We pulled out Patil from the crowd and he told us what had happened. Only then, police came to know that Khan had met with an accident,” Kadam told the court.
The witness said that the FIR was registered on the basis of complaint filed by constable Ravindra Patil who was then Khan’s bodyguard. He had said in his complaint that the actor was driving the car at the time of the accident and he was under the influence of liquor. The police officer further said that the injured persons were sent to a nearby hospital and their statements were recorded. At the accident spot, he saw a white colour car had rammed into American Express bakery shop after climbing three steps. The car’s number plate was lying on the spot, he said.
To a question, Kadam told prosecutor Pradeep Gharat that he saw five persons “entangled and trapped beneath the car” when he reached the spot. One of them was dead. Of the remaining four, two were severely injured and the rest had sustained minor injuries. “It was not possible to remove them without lifting the car with the help of a crane,” he said.
“The injured were taken to Bhabha hospital where two of the victims who had sustained minor injuries were discharged after preliminary treatment,” he said. Kadam said that inspection of the vehicle showed blood on the left front tyre of the car. As the tyre was burst, there was blood on the wheel base too, he said. He then seized the papers of the vehicle and its keys and labelled them.
The officer identified pieces of evidence produced before him in the court. They included blood-stained soil sample, pieces of fibre glass, white front bumper of the car involved in the accident. He also identified the spot panchnama prepared by him. During his cross-examination by Khan’s lawyer Shivade, Kadam said that he reached the accident spot at 2.50 AM and drew a panchnama between 3.05 AM and 4.20 AM.
He also said that though the ignition key was in the car, he did not try to start the engine either at the spot r later at the police station. The car was brought to the police station with the help of a crane. To a question, the witness replied, “I cannot say whether the bumper of the vehicle had come off while lifting the car with the help of crane.
The cross-examination would continue tomorrow. A fresh trial is being conducted on a day-to-day basis in a sessions court after the aggravated charge of culpable homicide was invoked which provides for imprisonment upto ten years.
Earlier, the trial was being conducted by a Magistrate in which the actor was charged with rash and negligent driving which attracts two years jail term.