Mumbai: A sessions court today rejected Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s plea for a three-week adjournment of the 2002 hit-and-run case in which he is facing charges of killing one person and injuring four by ramming his car into a shop in 2002. The actor had pleaded for adjournment on the ground that his presence was required in a Jodhpur court trying him in the endangered black buck killing case. He was responding to a direction given by a Mumbai court to appear on March 27 to record his statement.
Khan’s lawyer Shrikant Shivade moved an application today seeking adjournment of the proceedings in the Mumbai court for three weeks, which the prosecution strongly opposed. Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat argued that priority should be given to the hit-and-run trial as its programme was fixed by the sessions court before the Jodhpur court schedule was finalised.
The prosecutor argued that trial in the hit-and-run case was going on a day-to-day basis and hence the proceedings in the Mumbai sessions court should be given priority over the hearing in Jodhpur court. Judge D W Deshpande, after hearing both the sides, rejected Salman’s application, making it compulsory for him to appear before the court on March 27 when his statement will be recorded under section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code. While giving statement, Khan will get an opportunity to explain his line of defence in the case and also the court may ask him questions to clarify things if it so wants. The sessions court also rejected another application of the actor seeking recall of the first investigating officer.
The actor contended that he wanted to cross-examine the police officer regarding the omissions and contradictions made by the deceased police constable Ravindra Patil who is the complainant in the case. However, the court observed that since the lower court (magistrate), during the earlier trial, had not posed questions of omissions and contradictions to the witness himself, who is no more now, the investigating officer cannot be questioned about it. Meanwhile, the prosecution told the court that it had closed the evidence in the case.
In another development, the court also took on record three photographs of Salman’s vehicle involved in the mishap. The prosecution produced three photos of the car — two from the front side and one from behind. The defence lawyer, however, opposed it saying the pictures were produced for the first time in the trial and it did not get any opportunity to question the photographer or to seek details about them. The prosecution argued that the photographs were not originally mentioned by it in its list of evidence and that they had cropped up only during the cross-examination of the witnesses by the defence. The court, thereafter, took all the three photographs on record.
About 25 witnesses have already given evidence in this case. Khan would get an opportunity to examine defence witness if he wants to do so. Salman was arrested after his car had rammed into a bakery shop in suburban Bandra in the wee hours of September 28, 2002. The five injured were taken to a nearby municipal hospital, where one of them was declared dead. A fresh trial is being conducted after the charge of culpable homicide, which provides for imprisonment of up to ten years, was invoked.
Earlier, the trial was being conducted by a Magistrate, who had charged the actor with rash and negligent driving, which attracts only two years’ jail term.