Describing the evidence adduced against him in the hit-and-run case as “false”, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan on Friday told the trial court that he was not driving the car which met with an accident in 2002 killing one person and injuring four.
Describing the evidence adduced against him in the hit-and-run case as “false”, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan on Friday told the trial court that he was not driving the car which met with an accident in 2002 killing one person and injuring four.The 49-year-old actor while stating that his driver was behind the wheel also denied the prosecution’s charge that he had taken drinks just before the mishap occurred. “My driver, Ashok Singh, was driving the car when the mishap occurred,” Khan, attired in a white shirt and blue denim jeans, said in reply to a question posed by Judge D W Deshpande.Khan was summoned to make a statement under section 313 of Cr.Pc on the evidence adduced against him in the court during the trial. He was asked 418 questions by the Judge. Khan’s car had rammed into a bakery shop in suburban Bandra in the wee hours of September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four others who were sleeping outside on pavement. According to prosecution, he was driving the car and he was under the influence of liquor at the relevant time, a charge he denied. “I do not want to examine myself but would like to examine defence witnesses”, said the actor when the court asked him what he had to say about the case against him. Khan further said that the entire evidence placed in the court against him was “false”. The actor denied having taken drinks at a bar where he had gone with his friends and brother Sohail Khan just before the mishap occurred.”I was having a glass of water at the bar,” he said in reply to a question. The actor also said that Bala Shankar, who had tested Khan’s blood sample was not an expert. He was responding to deposition of this witness who had told the court earlier that 62mg alcohol was found in Khan’s blood sample, which was above the permissible limit, indicating that the actor had taken drinks before the mishap.Khan further told the Judge that the chemical analysis expert, while testing his blood sample, had allegedly not followed the procedures prescribed for examination. Khan was shown three photographs of the spot where his car had met with an accident and he identified them. These photos had been produced by the prosecution earlier. Salman told the court that on the ill-fated day he had gone with his friends to a bar in suburban Juhu. Initially, driver Altaf was driving his Land Cruiser SUV. Then Altaf left and another driver Ashok Singh joined them. “It is true I was sitting on driver’s seat in the car at the parking lot of J W Marriot hotel. But I was waiting for driver Ashok Singh and as soon as he arrived, I vacated the seat,” the actor said in response to deposition of a hotel staffer who had seen him occupying driver’s slot on that day.To another question, the actor said that Ravindra Patil, his police bodyguard at the time and had passed away during the trial, was not the eye witness to the mishap as claimed by the prosecution. “At that time, he was sleeping,” Khan said. “It is false to say that I was driving at a great speed of 90 to 100 kms per hour and also not true that I could not control the vehicle at that speed and hence met with an accident. In fact, I was not driving but Ashok Singh was driving the car,” Khan said.The actor, however, admitted that the car had climbed the stairs of the shop after the mishap and that it had run over some people sleeping outside the premises. The mishap spot was near his Bandra residence. He also denied that he had run away from the spot soon after the mishap. “I was there at least for 15 minutes and had told my driver to inform the police and help the injured in getting admitted to hospital.”The actor said his neighbour Francis reached the spot and advised him to go away as a mob had gathered and could have turned aggressive. Therefore, on his advice, he left the scene after asking the driver to inform police and help the injured. To another question, Khan said he was not arrested by police from an advocate’s place in Bandra but in fact he had himself surrendered to police few hours after the mishap. The actor said he was not aware if Excise department had issued any permit to him to consume liquor but was sure that on the ill-fated day he had not taken drinks. About the driving licence, the actor denied the claim of prosecution that he did not have it at the relevant time.He was then shown the extract of RTO record showing that he had obtained licence in 2004, two years after the mishap. The actor says the details of the record mentioning his address and name were correct. However, it would not be correct to say that this was the first driving licence issued to him, he said.To a question, the actor said he was not aware if he had suffered abrasion on his wrist at the time of mishap as mentioned in the panchnama. He also denied that the spot panchnama prepared by police was “false”. Khan’s statement concluded on Friday and the court allowed him to examine defence witnesses from March 30. In another development, the Judge asked the media not to report the actor’s statement until it concludes by evening.The court also restrained the media not to telecast or broadcast panel discussions or interviews of personalities on the merits or demerits of the case. The order was passed on an application moved by Khan’s lawyer Srikant Shivade. Khan’s statement under section 313 of CrPc comes at the fag end of the trial after the prosecution closed its evidence by examining more than 25 witnesses in court. This is a fresh trial being held in a sessions court after a Magistrate added the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder which lays down punishment upto ten years.Besides the charge of culpable homicide (sec 304 part two IPC), the actor is also facing charges of causing death of one person by negligent driving (sec 279), causing hurt to persons by act endangering personal safety (sec 337) and causing damage to property (sec 427). Khan is also facing charges under the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act (driving without licence), and provisions of Bombay Prohibition Act (driving after consuming liquor). Eye witness Ravindra Patil, who had allegedlly warned Khan against rash driving under the influence of alcohol, died of Tuberculosis on October 3, 2007. He had filed the first FIR and testified in a Magistrate’s court in the earlier trial saying that the actor was driving the car after taking drinks.In January 2013 mid-way during the trial, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate V S Patil slapped the charge of ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ on the actor and referred the case to Sessions Court for a fresh trial. This section of IPC prescribes punishment upto ten years.Earlier, Khan was charged with rash and negligent driving which provides for imprisonment upto two years. The prosecution also examined witnesses who said that they has seen the actor getting down from the side of driver’s seat of the car on the ill-fated day. The actor, however, testified before the court on Friday that he was sitting on the left side of the car but the door was jammed and hence he got down from the right side of the driver’s slot.