Bollywood star Salman Khan's defence that it was his driver Ashok Singh who was driving his vehicle at the time of the 2002 mishap was rejected by prosecution on Wednesday, saying it appears to be a "brought up" witness whose contention was belated and introduced at the fag end of the trial.
Salman had submitted for the first time on Monday that his driver was at the wheel and not him, while giving his statement after evidence was closed in the case, said special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat on Wednesday while making final arguments in the sessions court.
Salman was charged with killing one person and injuring four others by ramming his vehicle into a bakery shop in suburban Bandra in the wee hours of September 28, 2002. In his arguments, Gharat said none of the witnesses examined in the court was given this suggestion or confronted with this new piece of evidence claimed by Salman.
Gharat argued that Salman had not mentioned about his driver Ashok Singh at any stage of the trial earlier and had disclosed this only when his statement was being recorded. At that time, the actor was also asked by the judge if he wished to examine himself. To this, he had replied in the negative. "If he (Salman Khan) had chosen to examine himself he would have been exposed in cross-examination, Gharat further argued.
The accused had in the beginning of the trial accepted that the vehicle was owned by him and was in his possession when the mishap occurred. Even at that stage he did not disclose that his driver Ashok Singh was driving the car at the relevant time, said Gharat.
Ashok Singh told the sessions court on Monday that it was he was behind the wheel, and not the actor, at the time of the accident. The prosecution had alleged that Salman did not have driving licence and was under the influence of liquor at the time of the accident. Salman had denied both charges. "It appears that he (Ashok Singh) is a 'brought up' witness and as such his evidence cannot be accepted", Gharat contended. The prosecutor said police constable Ravindra Ptil, a complainant in the case and also bodyguard of Salman, had said in his statement about three persons occupying the car -- he (himself), accused Salman and his friend Kamaal.
Even Patil had not mentioned about the fourth person, i.e Ashok Singh, as claimed by the actor, the prosecutor said.