Driver Ashok Singh, not Salman Khan, was driving the car when the accident took place, the actor’s lawyer told the Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday, adding the prosecution had deliberately “kept Singh out of the picture”.
In March, towards the end of the trial in the sessions court, Singh had come before the sessions judge and claimed he was driving Khan’s Toyota Land Cruiser on the night of September 28, 2002.
On being asked why Singh’s name had come up only in the last stage of the trial in the sessions court, Khan’s counsel Amit Desai said the prosecution was bent on proving the actor had caused the accident and so ignored the evidence against Singh. “Singh was always there, but the prosecution gave him a clean chit,” he said.
Desai said the prosecution had brought in constable Ravindra Patil, who was Khan’s bodyguard at the time, as witness only to “fix the matter”. He said Patil had failed to mention in his FIR that Khan was drunk or driving roughly at the time of the incident, but he said so during his cross-examination. Desai said Patil had created a “false narrative” and as his cross-examination progressed, he continued to make modifications to make his testimony seem credible. “Patil was an eyewitness to the accident. Then why was he building up the prosecution’s narrative and trying to corroborate it,” Desai asked.
Desai claimed the prosecution had failed to throw light on who drove the car from Rain Bar in Juhu to JW Marriott and who parked it at the hotel. “If Patil’s statement that Khan was driving the car is to be believed, then why would Khan have to take his car to the parking lot? It is unlikely that valet attendants would not have rushed to Khan’s service on seeing him,” he said.
Desai said while Khan’s driver Altaf drove the car from Khan’s home to Rain Bar, Singh drove from Rain Bar to Marriott and then to Bandra.