Why Was Statement of Salman Khan’s Driver Not Recorded? Asks Lawyer

Picking holes in prosecution arguments in the 2002 hit-and-run case, the lawyer defending convicted filmstar Salman Khan on Thursday sought to know in Bombay High Court why police had not recorded the statement of his driver when they interrogated him after the mishap.

It is Salman’s case that he was not driving the car at the time of mishap and his driver Ashok Singh was behind the wheel. Mr Singh had appeared as a defence witness in the trial court which did not accept his version, saying he was a “got-up witness” who just wanted to save his master.

The 49-year-old actor was convicted by a Sessions Court on May 6 and sentenced to five years in jail for running over his car on people sleeping outside a shop in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002. One person was killed and four others were injured in the mishap.

The actor, who is out on bail, was also found guilty of driving under the influence of liquor. Aggrieved by the verdict, he filed an appeal in the High Court, which has suspended his sentence.

Senior Counsel, Amit Desai, defending Salman, sought to know why the police were saying Singh had surfaced only now (13 years after the incident). He referred to the deposition of prosecution witness 27 (the then Senior Inspector of Bandra Police Station), who said he had called Singh and interrogated him.

“The word ‘interrogated’ is very important here…and he also says he has not recorded his (Mr Singh’s) statement. What is the purpose of interrogation without recording a statement?” Salman’s counsel asked.

The lawyer said at the tail-end of trial, the police had produced evidence to show that Ravindra Patil, the police bodyguard of Salman who was seated with the actor in his car at the time of mishap, had passed away and the prosecution was relying upon his statement in the trial.

“If a star witness (Mr Patil) was no more, there were other eye witnesses to throw light on who was driving the car. While the prosecution says there were three people in the car, the defence has argued that there were four…but there is no dispute over the fact that singer Kamaal Singh was also in the same car at the relevant time. Why he has not been examined?” Mr Desai asked.