Actor Salman Khan, wearing an off-white shirt and blue denims, on Monday appeared before the Mumbai court which is conducting a trial against him in the 2002 hit-and-run case. Flanked by his body guards, the actor stood in one corner of the court for over five hours as the prosecution lawyer called his driver a “liar” for giving false evidence.
Insisting that Mr Khan was at the wheels when the accident took place, Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat argued, “If the Defence witness realised on the morning of the deposition that he has to come to court, how did the Defence intimate the court earlier that the witness will be stepping into the box on behalf of the Defence? Defence witness Ashok Kumar Singh has made himself liable for perjury.”
Advocate Gharat also asked, “Why was this person (driver) tolerated for 12 years and kept in service and not discontinued while Salman Khan was attending court hearings in connection with the case?
Salman Khan’s driver had appeared in court for the first time on March 30 and said that he – not the actor – was driving the SUV that crushed people sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai in 2002. One person was killed and four people were injured in the accident. In a twist in the 13-year-old case, the driver, Ashok Singh, had told the court that he was responsible for the accident and he “felt bad that Salman had to go through all the trouble.”
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The prosecution also rejected the 49-year-old Bollywood star’s claim, that he only drank water and it was his driver who was behind the wheel when the accident occurred in September 2002.
In an attempt to prove that Mr Khan had consumed alcohol on the night of the accident, the Public Prosecutor quoted from the statement of a waiter at Rain Pub. “If this witness was standing with and escorting Salman then he had every opportunity to know what Salman was doing. Bacardi rum looks like water. The witness says Salman Khan was drinking a clear liquid. He does not say he was drinking water. Clear liquid looks like water. During cross examination, defence did not tell witness that he was wrong and accused was drinking water,” he told the court.
“What is this clear liquid? The result of drinking this clear liquid is 62mg alcohol in blood,” the public prosecutor went on to say.
Mr Gharat also told the court, “Prosecution witness Malay Bag’s has testified saying I kept Bacardi white rum and cocktail on the table. Prawns and chicken was also ordered and served. Is there any reason to disbelieve this person? Witness says Salman and his friends ordered prawn and chicken. So if we study this it shows witness has differentiated between service to Salman and service to his friends. Salman was served Bacardi and cocktails and his friends were served prawn and chicken.”
One of the most bankable stars in the Hindi film industry, Mr Khan is being tried for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in jail. He earlier faced a lesser charge of death by negligence, for which the punishment is a maximum of two years in jail.
Mr Khan will have to be present in court on Tuesday as well.