SC issues notice to Salman Khan in accident case

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to Bollywood filmstar Salman Khan on the Maharashtra government’s petition challenging the December 2015 Bombay High Court verdict acquitting him in a 2002 accident case.

Issuing notice returnable in six weeks, a bench of Justice Jagjit Singh Khehar and Justice C. Nagappan told Salman that “it would be much, much better if he gets acquittal from this court as it will save him from all the repercussions”.

The high court had on December 10, 2015, acquitted the actor saying that “prosecution has failed to prove the charges against him on all counts”.

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Salman Khan, took the court through the proceedings of the trial court, contending that his conviction was based on the testimony of police official, which cannot be relied upon.

Sibal said that Mumbai police officer Ravindra Patil – who was Salman’s personal security officer – in his FIR at Bandra police station on the night of the accident did not mention that the Bollywood star was drunk. Even in his subsequent interview to a Mumbai tabloid, he did not say that Salman was drunk but suddenly four year later – in 2006 – in his testimony before the trial court he said that actor was drunk.

He said besides that there was no other evidence before the trial court to convict Salman in the case.

The high court had said that it was difficult to rely on Patil’s testimony as he was not “wholly reliable witness” and there were variation in his statements in the course of the trial. “Even if Patil’s statement has to be considered as partially reliable, there has to be corroboration in evidence which does not exist in this case,” the high court had said.

Patil who suffered from tuberculosis died in 2007.

Sibal said that Salman’s family driver Ashok Singh who was questioned by Mumbai police but his statement was not recorded.

He pointed to several gaps in the prosecution theory and the flaws in taking the actor’s blood samples and then their storage. He also disputed the police claim that the car was being driven at the speed of 90 kilometres per hour.

However, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that besides the sole witness (Patil) being pointed to by Sibal, there were scores of other witnesses at the accident spot who saw Salman in the driver’s seat of his vehicle that ran over a group of people sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai’s Bandra area, killing one of them.

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