Adding a new argument in the appeal filed by Bollywood actor Salman Khan against his conviction in the 2002 hit-run-case, his lawyer on Tuesday told the Bombay high court that the prosecution did not examine several important witnesses including the actor’s brother Sohail Khan or the other members of his family.
The main allegation is that Salman was drunk when the mishap -- in which one person was killed -- took place but the witnesses were mum on this aspect, said advocate Amit Desai, arguing before justice AR Joshi.
“The star witness is late Ravindra Patil, the then police bodyguard of Salman. He does not speak a word about Salman consuming alcohol or smelling of alcohol in his first complaint,” said Desai.
“Prosecution witness-6 (Balu Muthe), the security guard of Sohail Khan, also does not speak anything on this issue... He is an important witness for the prosecution, he goes in a car with Sohail Khan and Vikram Fadnis from Salman’s Galaxy Apartments to the Rain Bar & Restaurant....however, when Salman Khan comes out of the Rain Bar, the witness is silent (about the actor’s condition).
“Whether he (Salman) was smelling of alcohol? Whether he was slurring? There is nothing to suggest that he had taken alcohol at Rain Bar...he (Muthe) also did not say anything about who was in the driver’s seat,” Desai said.
“Sohail Khan was not examined, singer Kamaal Khan, who had accompanied Salman in the car, also was not examined. Vikram Fadnis too was not examined.”
Except for the Rain Bar Manager Rizwan Ali Rakhangi and waiter Malay Semerendra Bag, none of the other persons present there was examined, Desai said. According to the police, Salman had taken drinks at this bar before the accident.
Fifteen parking attendants of JW Marriott hotel (where Salman had reportedly visited before the mishap) except one (Kalpesh Verma) and none of the hotel staff were examined.
The prosecution also didn’t examine Salman Khan’s relatives at Galaxy Apartments and the wife of PW7 (Francis Fernandes) who took him away in a taxi from the mishap site, said Desai. Salman’s lawyer also claimed that the actor had given up drinking ahead of the `muhurat’ of his new film ‘Garv’. Moreover, the bar bills produced by Bandra police were “manipulated”, Desai said, also questioning the delay in taking the actor for a medical test after the mishap.
“The accident happened at 2.45 am in the morning and blood samples were taken at JJ Hospital at 2.30 pm...Why this delay?” he said.
“Till 2.45 am, no one smelt of alcohol...there is a huge gap....a gap of 12 hours,” he said, adding that post-2.30 pm event suggested that there were “attempts to extrapolate backwards”.
“The accident happens and he (Salman) is first taken to Bhabha Hospital, which despite being a civic hospital with an operation theatre and ICU, does not have blood sample drawing facilities. Then he is taken to JJ Hospital, where .62 mg of alcohol is found in blood,” said Desai.
This time-gap was very wide, he said. “If a man has drinks at 8 am or 10 am to soothe his nerves, what would be the results at 2.30 pm?” Desai asked.
Referring to the Alister Pereira case, in which too the allegation was of running over pedestrians while driving drunk, Salman’s lawyer pointed out that a liquor bottle had been actually found in his car (unlike in Salman’s case).
“Wrong set of bills (from the Rain Bar) were produced in the court because police wanted to show that Salman and his friends had consumed liquor on that night,” Desai alleged.
The date on the bills should have been September 28, 2002 and not September 27, argued Desai. According to the defence lawyer, police could not find the actual bills paid by Salman and his friends, so they picked up four bills at random.
Also, Desai pointed out, the manager of Rain Bar had deposed before the trial court that he was asked to sign four bills selected by the police.
“The bills and documents in this case were planted by police as they wanted to show that the actor had consumed alcohol on that night,” argued Desai.
Salman was convicted on May 6 this year by a sessions court in Mumbai which held him guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for ramming his car into a shop in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four people who were sleeping on the pavement.