In a new twist to the hearing of the appeal filed by Bollywood actor Salman Khan in the Bombay high court against his five-year sentence in the 2002 hit-and-run case, his lawyer on Thursday claimed that certain documents were missing from the `paper-book'.
Paper-book is compilation of evidence, documents, prepared by the court registry and submitted to both the sides before the appeal is heard.
The prosecution and the defence had heated arguments over the issue on Thursday, with the latter slamming the prosecution for its earlier statement that the paper-book was in order. An application was filed by senior counsel Amit Desai, Salman's lawyer, before Justice A R Joshi alleging that some documents pertaining to the defence were not found in the paper-book and therefore the defence couldn't argue.
Among other things, the paper-book did not have a document pertaining to the media interview given by Ravindra Patil, a policeman who was then Salman's bodyguard and who was a witness to the accident.
Patil, who died during the trial, had contradicted himself on the statement given before a magistrate in this interview, the application said. It was a very vital document for the defence to prove that Patil was not telling the truth, it said. Patil had stated before the magistrate that Salman was driving the car at the time and was under the influence of liquor.
"This (paper-book) is one-sided and bound to cause prejudice...there has to be a sense of responsibility, what we want is strict compliance of the HC manual," Desai had said, adding that some documents which were not required were included in the paper-book while essential ones had been "conveniently ignored."
The prosecutors Purnima Kantharia and S S Shinde pointed out that though the paper-book may not have this document, it had been placed in the "records and proceedings" and hence it was available for the defence lawyer. However, Desai maintained that the paper-book should be prepared according to HC rules, which was not done.
The charge was refuted by the prosecution. Justice Joshi then posted the matter for Friday when he would rule on the application filed by Desai.
The High Court had on May 8 granted Salman bail while admitting his appeal. Salman has challenged the findings of the trial court that he was drunk and was driving under the influence of liquor. The trial court wrongly convicted him under the culpable homicide charge because he had no `knowledge' that he would meet with an accident, he has argued in the appeal.