Left embarrassed by the Bombay high court’s acquittal of actor Salman Khan in the 2002 hit-and-run case, in which a man was killed and four others were injured, a senior official of the Mumbai police has issued a circular highlighting several lapses in the investigation that the high court pointed out in its judgment. Additional commissioner of police (crime) KMM Prasanna issued the circular to prevent the police from repeating the mistakes in future cases. Most of the points raise by the court were to do with improper collection of evidence.
Among the 16 points mentioned in Prasanna’s circular are the police’s failure to make singer Kamaal Khan, who was in Salman’s Landcruiser when it ran over pavement dwellers at Bandra’s American Express Bakery, a witness in the case; their failure to have the actor’s bills from Rain Bar that night certified under the Evidence Act; and the delays in getting the actor’s medical tests done and sending his blood samples to the forensic laboratory in Kalina.
Despite acknowledging the lapses, the police will challenge the high court’s verdict in the Supreme Court.
16 points raised in circular
1. Bills from Rain Bar, where the prosecution alleged that Salman Khan drank alcohol that night, were not certified under Section 65(B) of the Evidence Act.
2. The police seized bills and a parking tag from JW Marriott but did not mention them in the panchanama.
3. There are handwritten endorsements on the Rain Bar bills, but no record was kept of who took the endorsements and how.
4. Salman was available from the morning of September 28, 2002 for a medical test but was only taken to JJ Hospital in the afternoon.
5. While the blood sample of the deceased, Narula, was taken at Bhabha Hospital, the actor’s blood sample was taken at JJ Hospital with no explanation given.
6. Though the blood samples arrived at Bandra police station on September 28, 2002, they were sent to the Forensic Laboratory in Kalina only on September 30.
7. A chain of custody of blood samples was not properly established, and because of the missing link the biological evidence was not trustworthy.
8. The statement of the constable who brought blood samples from the hospital to the police station was not recorded and he was not examined.
9. Important anomaly: 6ml of blood was extracted from Salman in two containers, but the lab received only 4ml of blood.
10. Receiving clerk of the lab was not examined.
11. The investigating officer did not verify the medical papers while collecting them. Blood collection reports shows many discrepancies and defects, which were admitted.
12. No charge under Section 66 (i) (b) of the Bombay Prohibition Act was framed.
13. Kamal Khan was not summoned to the trial even though he could have been an important witness for the police.
14. The defence had claimed that the vehicle had crashed because of a burst tyre, but it was not sent to the lab to verify this claim.
15. The FIR was altered in two places with no explanation given.
16. Statements of witnesses were not recorded under Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code. Nobody said Salman was driving the vehicle.