The appreciation of evidence by the trial court (sessions court) in the accident case involving Bollywood actor Salman Khan “has not been proper”, the Bombay high court, which acquitted the actor last Thursday, said in its detailed judgment.
“Lastly, in the considered view of this court, the appreciation of the evidence as done by the trial court in the present matter is not proper and legal as per the settled principles of criminal jurisprudence,” Justice AR Joshi said in the final judgement running into 305 pages, released and uploaded on the high court website one week after the judgement, and three days before he retires.
“As such, consequently, it must be said that this is not a case in which the prosecution has successfully established its case for all the charges and as such resultantly, the appeal is required to be disposed of,” he said.
Additional Sessions Judge DW Deshpande, who conducted the trial of Salman, found him guilty on all counts, including the stringent charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The actor was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 25,000 or an additional six months in jail, which he challenged before the Bombay high court.
“In this case, considering the various weaknesses in the case of the prosecution, various shortcomings such as non-examination of necessary and appropriate witnesses, the omissions and contradictions in the evidence of the injured witnesses which go to the root of the matter, definitely a doubt has arisen as to the involvement of the appellant for the offences with which he is charged,” Justice Joshi said.
He added that on the basis of “this type of evidence”, the appellant cannot be convicted though the apparent perception might be different as appearing in the mind of a common man, Justice Joshi said in his verdict of December 10.
Salman’s conviction and five-year jail sentence was quashed and set aside by the court after which the actor walked away free in the 13-year old case.
He was the prime accused in the accident on early morning of September 28, 2002 in Bandra west when his Toyota Land Cruiser rammed into a bakery, killing a homeless man and injuring four others.