Mumbai: The charge against Bollywood superstar Salman Khan that he drove his car in a rash and negligent manner in September 2002 was exaggerated by a witness who was tutored by police to say this, the actor’s lawyer argued today in the Bombay High Court. The Court is currently hearing an appeal filed by Salman who was sentenced to five years jail term on May 6 for ramming his car into a shop in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002.
One person was killed and four others were injured in the mishap. “That he (Salman Khan) was driving at a speed of 90 to 100 kmph is an exaggeration by Ravindra Patil who said what the police told him,” senior defence counsel Amit Desai told Justice A R Joshi.
According to the prosecution, the 49-year-old actor, on the day of the mishap, had gone from his residence at Galaxy Apartments in Bandra to Rain Bar and Restaurant at Vile Parle and then to J W Marriot Hotel in Juhu and from there to the accident spot on way back to his house. Ravindra Patil, the then bodyguard of Salman who had accompanied the actor on that day, is the first informant in this case and had lodged FIR. He died in 2007.
Police had relied upon his statement recorded by a magistrate and placed it before the trial court. Desai argued that “he is the first informant and has said nothing about the alcohol (allegedly consumed by Salman before the mishap) in the FIR. He talks about the rash and negligent driving (by Salman) but his statements are contradictory.
Patil had said Salman was driving at a speed of 90 to 100 kmph and that they had started from J.W Marriot hotel at 2.15 AM to reach the accident spot at Bandra at 2.45 AM on September 28, 2002. The distance between these two places is 8 to 10 kms and and in that speed the car would have crossed the place in eight to ten minutes, the lawyer further argued.
Moreover, Patil had not said what route they had taken to reach the accident spot from J W Marriot hotel. There are two to three routes from the hotel to the accident spot but he did not say which one was taken by them. “Such a statement was given by him so that section 304, Part II of Indian Penal Code, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, could be added as a charge against the actor”, his lawyer submitted.
Had one more witness, Kamaal Khan, who was also in the car with Salman and others, been examined in the court, it would have become clear as to who was driving the car and at what speed and also the route taken by them, said Desai. The prosecution’s case that Salman had taken drinks and was driving at a speed of 90 to 100 kmph does not inspire confidence in the mind of the court, he argued. Arguments would continue tomorrow.