Bombay HC verdict in Salman case wishy-washy, Maharashtra tells SC

New Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS) The Maharashtra government on Friday told the Supreme Court that the Bombay High Court verdict acquitting Bollywood star Salman Khan in the 2002 accident case was “wishy-washy” and sought its reversal.

As Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the state, took the bench of Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice C. Nagappan through the details of the case and the proceedings before the trial court, the apex court said that since it was a matter of acquittal, they will examine the evidence before deciding to issue notice to Salman Khan.

Assailing the high court verdict, Rohatgi ssaid its finding that Salman was not driving the vehicle at the time of the accident is suspicious. He also questioned the surfacing of Salman’s driver in the case after a gap of 13 years.

Telling the court that the driver was with Salman Khan’s father Salim Khan since 1990, Rohatgi said that if it was really the driver who was driving the vehicle on the night of accident, then the film star would have protested his arrest by the police.

Refuting the theory of driver being behind the wheel, he said that people on the spot of the accident, who had “no axe to grind with the film star have said that there were three people in the car that included Salman Khan, his friend Kamal Khan and his personal security guard”.

Nailing Salman on another count – of driving the car without driving licence, Rohatgi told the court that in 2002 when the accident took place, the actor did not have a driving licence for which he applied to the RTO in 2004.

Taking the court to the sequence of events on the evening of the accident, Rohatgi told the court that the valet of the hotel where Salman Khan and his friend had gone for drinks had said that after he handed over the car keys to the film star, Salman sat in the driver seat and drove away.

He said that the blood test of Salman Khan that conducted twelve hours after the accident had alcohol content of 0.6 which was much more than the normal level of 0.30 and asked what the level would have been if blood samples had been taken at the time of the accident.

As he led the court to the statements of the witnesses, Justice Khehar asked him about the “nature of questions asked to the prosecution witnesses and the purport of them.”

Salman’s counsel Kapil Sibal meanwhile asked the court to direct the summoning of the translated version of the trial court record in the case to it.

Asking Rohatgi to apprise the court on the material in support of their plea for reversal of acquittal order, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing to February 12.

Salman had in January moved a caveat, urging the apex court to grant him a hearing before passing any order on the Maharashtra government’s appeal in the 2002 accident case, in which one person was killed and four others were injured.

The actor was found guilty by a sessions court on May 6, 2015 and convicted for, among others, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and sentenced to five years in jail for the accident.

However, on December 10, 2015, the Bombay High Court quashed the lower court verdict and acquitted him of all charges.

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