Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday began dictation of the verdict in the 2002 hit-and-run case involving Bollywood hero Salman Khan and observed that the FIR was silent on the issue of "drunkenness" of the actor, which cannot be considered as "minor."
"The FIR is silent on the issue of the drunkenness of the appellant...This ommission of witness cannot be considered as minor," observed Justice A R Joshi in the open court during the dictation of the judgement.
"The issue of drunkeness of Salman Khan has to be critically examined as the evidence of those injured in the accident is not devoid of minor discrepancies," Justice Joshi said. The court is expected to conclude the verdict this week in the appeal filed by Khan against five-year imprisonment awarded to him by a Mumbai sessions court on May 6 this year. The Judge said that the prosecution witness PW-3 i.e Mannu Khan had testified that it appeared to him that Salman was drunk because he fell down twice after getting down from the car at the accident spot, then got up and left the place.
Justice Joshi observed that "it appears that the first informant (Ravindra Patil) has lost sight of this when he filed the FIR as it does not mention the word alcohol.
Moreover, PW-3 i.e Mannu Khan, has been examined 12 years after the incident. He (PW-3) has to be viewed in juxtaposition with the FIR, the Judge said. Salman challenged the sessions court verdict which had sentenced the actor to five years imprisonment on IPC charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, saying the trial court had erred in trying him for this offence.
The Judge said he will give a ruling on applicability of culpable homicide charge against Salman and also on other key questions like the admissibility of a statement made by the actors former bodyguard (before a magistrate) Ravindra Patil as evidence under section 33 of Indian Evidence Act. Salman contended that the charge of culpable homicide was not justified and wrongly invoked in the case. He also challenged the prosecutions step of relying upon Patils statement in the trial court, saying this witness died and hence was not available for cross-examination.
The prosecution opposed Salmans plea and justified invocation of culpable homicide charge against the actor, saying he had driven the car recklessly under the influence of liquor on September 28, 2002, when he met with a mishap in which one person was killed and 4 others were injured. During the course of the judgement, the Judge said he would also scrutinise other important issues including whether the deceased had been killed due to the impact of the car mishap or whether the car dropped off the hook of a crane, called to remove it, and fell accidentally on the victim.