The Bombay High Court yesterday observed the prosecution has not been able “to prove beyond reasonable doubt” that Bollywood actor Salman Khan was driving his car or was drunk on September 28, 2002, when it met with an accident.
Justice A R Joshi also said it was difficult to rely on the testimony of the late Ravindra Patil, the police bodyguard assigned to Khan who was in the SUV that night when it mowed down one pavement dweller and injured four in Bandra West.
Besides, the judge noted that the prosecution has not been able to establish whether the accident was due to a tyre burst.
Terming him as “an unreliable witness” Justice Joshi observed it was difficult to accept Patil’s answers that the tyre “burst due to the impact” (of the crash).
The court also observed that in his police statement recorded hours after the accident that day, Patil made no mention about Khan being drunk, but changed his version on October 1 of that year after the blood sample tests reports were received.
Patil died in 2007 and was not available during the trial in the Sessions Court. However, the prosecution had produced Patil’s statement recorded by a magistrate earlier in which he had implicated Khan.
The trial court accepted Patil’s statement and said it was admissible in law, based on which the actor was convicted.
Khan, however, challenged the admissibility of the statement and said the witness was not available to him for cross-examination and contended that the trial court had erred in accepting this piece of evidence.
Khan, who is on bail, did not come to the court, though his sister Alvira Khan Agnihotri attended the hearing.
Justice Joshi is likely to deliver the much-anticipated verdict today in Khan’s appeal against the Sessions Court order last May, convicting him and sentencing him to five years in jail on charges, among other things, of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan pose during a promotional shoot at Mehboob Studio in Mumbai on Tuesday.