On his last day of deposition as a witness in the 1999 BMW hit and run case, Sunil Kulkarni said he is not ‘certain’ if the person who had come out of the offending vehicle was accused Sanjeev Nanda. “I had only seen their physiques and not their faces. Earlier, I identified Nanda using my mental cognitive abilities,” Kulkarni said, during his cross-examination by Nanda’s counsel Ramesh Gupta.
On May 17, Kulkarni had clearly identified Nanda, in the court, as one of the occupants of the car. Nanda, grandson of former naval chief, had allegedly mowed down six people under his BMW car in an inebriated state on January 10, 1999.
Legal experts say Kulkarni’s changing statement is likely to favour the accused as it raises serious questions about his credibility. “Its unlikely for the court to depend on the statement of a witness who changes his stand every now and then,” said Pandit RK Naseem, senior criminal lawyer. Another noted criminal lawyer, KK Manan, also felt this is likely to help the defence. Police had raised questions about his credibility in 1999 when he was dropped as an unreliable witness by the prosecution. The court, however, summoned him again in March this year.
Failing to withstand the cross examination, Kulkarni accepted that he could not see the occupants, including Nanda, who had come out of the offending car.
He also accepted that ACP Ranbeer Singh had beaten him up at the Hauz Khas police station before the recording of his testimony in court in 1999. On being inquired about the alleged beating, Kulkarni said he could not understand as to whether police wanted him to rescind from or stick to his earlier testimony.
He also agreed before the court that the police had shown clippings of Nanda and other two accused on January 16 and on the same morning, he was shown Nanda in person in a lock up at Patiala House court.
Besides Kulkarni, the case has two other eyewitnesses who had already turned hostile — Manoj Malik, one of the survivors in the accident, and Harishankar, a petrol pump employee who had reportedly made called the police.
Malik had reportedly said it was a truck and not a car that had run over the persons.