Mumbai: A day after Salman Khan’s driver Ashok Singh testified before the sessions court here that he was driving the car at the time of 2002 mishap for which the Bollywood actor has been charged, the defence today said it did not want to examine more witnesses. Judge D W Deshpande asked both the sides to make final arguments from tomorrow. The prosecution, led by Pradeep Gharat, was asked to argue first, followed by Salman’s lawyer Shrikant Shivade.
The prosecution’s argument is likely to take at least a week. Singh, Khan’s family driver, appeared before the court yesterday, claiming full responsibility for the accident in which one person died and four others were injured. Asked why he was approaching the court more than 12 years after the incident, he said that Salim Khan, the well-known script-writer and Salman’s father, had advised him to tell the truth to the court.
Singh also denied, to the prosecution’s question, that he had received money to make a false deposition. According to the prosecution, a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by Salman in a drunk state rammed into a bakery in suburban Bandra in the wee hours of September 28, 2002, running over the people sleeping outside.
The prosecution examined more than 25 witnesses while the defence examined only one witness (apart from Salman Khan who is the accused) during the trial.
A fresh trial started after the earlier judge, a magistrate, added the charge of `culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ which attracts a prison sentence of upto ten years, and referred the case to the sessions court. The earlier charge was `rash and negligent driving’, for which the maximum jail term is two years. The prosecution examined witnesses to prove that before the mishap Salman had visited a bar with his friends, to substantiate the charge that he was drunk.
It alleged that he did not have a driving licence at the time, which he got only in 2004. However, the actor argued that the licence he got in 2004 was not the first one obtained by him.
The prosecution also alleged that Khan was driving rashly, relying upon the statement of his police bodyguard Ravindra Patil before the magistrate that he had asked the actor not to drive in a reckless manner, but the latter didn’t pay heed. Patil, an eye witness, passed away during the earlier trial, but his statement is a part of record in the present proceedings.
Salman claimed that Patil could not have seen the accident as he was asleep in the car. Besides the charge of culpable homicide (section 304 part two), the actor is also facing charges of causing death of one person by negligent driving (sec 279), causing hurt to persons by act endangering personal safety (sec 337) and causing damage to property (sec 427) under the Indian Penal Code.
He is also facing charges under the Motor Vehicles Act (driving without licence), and Bombay Prohibition Act (driving after consuming liquor).