A Sessions Court conducting the 2002 hit-and-run trial involving Bollywood actor Salman Khan today said that before giving the judgement in the case on May 6, it would decide on the same day an application seeking action against police for perjury (giving false evidence). (Read: Chronology of events)
Salman Khan is facing charge of ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ after he allegedly rammed his Toyota Land Cruiser into a bakery shop on September 28, 2002, in suburban Bandra killing one person and injuring four others who were sleeping outside.
The application, filed by activist Santosh Daundkar, seeks perjury action against police for not examining eye witness Kamal Khan, the Bollywood singer, who was in the car along with the actor and his police bodyguard Ravindra Patil.
It also alleges that a wrong set of doctors were examined in the court by police who said they had conducted postmortem of the deceased, thereby delaying the trial for three years in a Magistrate’s court.
By not examining witness Kamal Khan, police had tried to cover an important piece of evidence which might have thrown light on who was driving the car at the relevant time, said lawyer Abha Singh, who argued for the applicant.
Judge D W Deshpande asked the lawyer to submit written arguments tomorrow which he would consider before deciding the application for perjury.
“Under section 344 of CrPc, if the court finds that perjury has been made out, it can issue show cause notices to the concerned parties and hear them before passing orders. In the alternative, the court may also dismiss the application if perjury is not proved,” Abha Singh said.
The lawyer said that Kamal Khan, the singer friend of Salman Khan, was in the same car when the accident occurred. He had given a statement to police on October 4, 2002, that Salman and his bodyguard Ravindra Patil were in the front and he was sitting behind. However, there is no mention of Salman’s driver Ashok Singh in his statement.
Significantly, the actor has taken a plea in the court that his driver Ashok Singh was driving the car and not he when the mishap occurred. Even Singh testified as a defence witness that he was driving the car at the relevant time.
“I am going to submit a copy of this statement of Kamal Khan to the court tomorrow along with my written submissions,” she told reporters after the hearing.
There are two star witnesses in this case. One of them, Ravindra
Patil, police bodyguard of the actor, died during the trial. The other one was Kamal Khan who has been dropped as witness by police, the lawyer said.The singer was initially hostile to the prosecution and did not appear in the case. Later, a non-bailable warrant was issued to him by a Magistrate and he was arrested and released on a personal bond of Rs 5,000, she said.
Producing a copy of the Magistrate’s order, the lawyer noted that the singer had also given an undertaking to the court assuring that he would attend the court whenever required.
“However, his name was dropped by the prosecution and police and we want to know why such a key witness was not examined. This only shows an unholy nexus between police and the accused to fix the trial,” the lawyer alleged.
Abha Singh claimed she had in her possession a list of witnesses prepared by the prosecution. Altogether 64 witnesses were set to be examined, but 37 were dropped and only 27 persons were brought before the court to tender evidence. Kamal Khan was among the witnesses who was dropped.
The perjury application was earlier not entertained by the court. The aggrieved applicant then moved the High Court, which directed the Sessions Court to hear it and decide.
The trial was earlier conducted by a Magistrate after the 49-year-old actor was charged with ‘rash and negligent driving’, an offence which attracts punishment upto two years.
However, he added a graver charge of ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ which provides for ten years jail term. The case was referred to sessions court because this charge is not triable by a Magistrate.