Is Dulani a key witness or man of flip flops?

  • Dinesh Bothra, Hindustan Times, Jodhpur
  • Updated: Jul 28, 2016 20:59 IST
Harish Dulani, 38, was present as driver of Maruti Gypsy when Salman Khan and others allegedly went hunting in Bhawad and Mathania villages. (HT File Photo)

Harish Dulani, the key witness in two cases of Chinkara poaching, who is now saying that he stands by his statement that Salman killed the deer, said the opposite in 2006. Five days before the Jodhpur chief judicial magistrate (CJM) court convicted actor Salman Khan of killing two Chinkaras in Bawad village on September 26, 1998, the man told a local newspaper that he didn’t see the actor hunt.

This was different from what he had told a magistrate in 1998 while recording his statement under section 164 of CrPC.

Dulani, 38, was present as driver of Maruti Gypsy when Salman Khan and others allegedly went hunting in Bhawad and Mathania villages.

According to lawyers associated with the two cases in which Dulani is a witness, the man has changed his statement thrice, forcing a Jodhpur court to initiate proceedings against him for false evidence under section 193 of the CrPC in which he could get 7 years in jail if found guilty.

For the first time, when Dulani recorded his statement before a magistrate, he said Salman Khan and five others killed the deer. In April 2006, he backtracked on it and said the first statement was under pressure from forest officials and police.

Dulani’s counsel in the cases, Anil Gaur said he’s facing legal proceedings for frequently changing his statements.

He has appeared before media twice during the 17-year-old legal process. On Wednesday, he told the same newspaper that he stuck to his statement given before a magistrate, without spelling out what he said in the statement.

Dulani disappeared between 2001 and 2006, missing court dates and earning the sobriquet ‘distrustful’ from the trial court. He was neither examined nor cross-examined in the Bhawad case.

However, he is regularly appearing in the case against him for false evidence.

Salman Khan’s counsel Hastimal Sarswat said Dulani has repeatedly changed his statements forcing the trail court to term him as distrusted witness. Dulani himself now admits the memory of the incident is now not clear in his mind and can’t clearly recall. The facts has it that the trial court issued bailable warrants 32 times to Dulani in the Bhawad and Ghora Farm hunting cases but he never appeared before the court for the cross-examination by the defence lawyers.

“Now when high court has acquitted my client putting his absence from trial court for cross-examination as one of the reasons, he wants media spotlight again,” said Saraswat slamming the commercial driver’s effort to remain in news.

The high court, in its judgment acquitting Salman Khan, noted, “It is doubtful as to whether Harish Dulani was an eyewitness at all.”

“He could not even identify the place of incident. In fact, the trial court itself observed in its order on April 10, 2006 that Dulani is not a reliable witness and has given false evidence and went on to even issue a notice under Section 344 of the CrPC to him. Notice under Section 344 of the CrPC is issued in pursuance to a finding recorded by the court to the effect that witness has intentionally given false evidence. The very issuance of the notice shows that the court was convinced that the witness has intentionally given a false statement. To rely on a statement of a witness whose statement is found to be false is highly unsafe. The evidence must be free of any suspicion. Thus, the statement of Harish Dulani cannot be made the basis for convicting the petitioner,” the HC noted.

After Wednesday’s appearance before local media, Dulani has again gone into a hideout, not accessible to take questions on his changing statements.

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