The Bombay High Court on Tuesday began dictation of the verdict in the 2002 hit-and-run case involving Bollywood hero Salman Khan. The HC would also give a ruling on the "drunken" state of Salman Khan on the day of the incident.
Justice Joshi observed that there has been no direct evidence that Salman Khan was drinking or any witness that states he saw the actor drinking on the day.
The court also 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 omission 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 drunkenness 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 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, Mannu Khan has been examined 12 years after the incident."
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 also said the other issue he would touch on in his verdict would be on the improvement made by late Ravindra Patil in his statement before a magistrate.
Initially, in the FIR filed by him, Patil had not said anything incriminating about Salman. However, later, in a Magistrate's court, he gave a statement saying the actor was drunk and was driving recklessly and in great speed.
Justice Joshi also touched upon the deposition of Salman's friend Francis Fernandes who had asked the actor to leave the place of mishap. The prosecution alleged that Salman had run away from the spot.
Besides, the court referred to the testimony of Kalpesh Varma, parking attendant at J W Marriott Hotel where Salman had gone before he met with the mishap.
The Judge also mentioned the version of eyewitness Ram Asare Pande who was at the accident spot. Pande had said in his evidence that he had seen four persons -- the actor, his police bodyguard and two other persons.
Salman has argued that there were four persons in the car including his family driver Ashok Singh who was driving the car while prosecution claimed that there were only three persons --Salman, his singer friend Kamaal Khan and Patil.
(With PTI Inputs)