mid-day examines 10 questions the investigation never managed to answer, paving the way for Salman Khan’s acquittal
Star testimony botched
>> Salman Khan’s bodyguard, constable Ravindra Patil testified that Salman was driving under influence. Patil passed away in 2007, but the Sessions Court accepted his testimony and convicted the actor. However, the HC questioned why Patil had failed to mention this in his first statement and only brought up in his supplementary statement three days later.
Who was driving?
>> A parking assistant at the JW Marriott Hotel stated that he had seen Salman in the driver’s seat, but the defence said the driver, Ashok Singh reached the hotel later and took the wheel.
>> People saw Salman emerging from the right-hand door of the car (driver’s side); the defence claimed the left-hand door was jammed.
>> 13 years after the incident, Ashok testified that it was him, not Salman, who was driving.
Witnesses left out
>> Besides Patil, only Salman’s friend, singer Kamaal Khan was with him all of that night. Despite this, he was not examined by the police.
>> Two others — the security guard and the valet parking executive at JW Marriott — were not examined even though they might have seen who was driving the car.
Was Salman drunk?
>> One witness said the actor was drinking a ‘clear liquid’ on the night of September 27. Prosecution claimed it was white rum, but the defence refuted this.
>> Neither the FIR, nor the OPD papers from Salman’s check-up, include any mention of drink driving.
>> Even though the police claimed they had recovered bills from Rain Bar in Vile Parle, to prove Salman had been drinking, no panchnama was carried out to verify those bills. The bills had a table number, but Salman said they never got a table.
>> One witness claimed that he had seen Salman stumble while getting out of the car after the accident. The prosecution conjectured that this was because the actor was drunk, but no other witness was produced to substantiate this claim.
>> Although 6 ml of Salman’s blood had been drawn, only 4 ml reached the forensic laboratory. No explanation was given by the FSL or the cops.
>> In court, when the lab’s chemical analyser was asked the formula of Sodium Chloride (NaCl), he could not answer, raising doubts over the quality of investigations.
>> Salman’s blood report showed the actor had 62 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood, but the defence claimed the blood samples had been tampered with as there was no proper label. Neither the constable who carried the sample, nor the forensic staffer who received it was examined.
>> The defence questioned why the sample was sent to Bandra police station and kept there for two days.
>> The constable (ID no 2985) who carried Salman’s blood sample from JJ Hospital to Bandra police station was untraceable, said the police.
>> The defence claimed the accident had occurred due to a tyre burst, while the prosecution countered that the tyre burst was the result and not the cause of the accident. But the tyre was never sent for forensic analysis.
Where was Salman sitting?
>> The prosecution claimed there were three people in the car — Salman at the wheel, Kamaal sitting behind him and Patil beside him. The defence claimed Salman was sitting next to Ashok, who was in the driver’s seat, while Kamaal and Patil were behind. There was not enough evidence to prove that Salman was driving.
>> The police said Salman was driving negligently and was speeding at 90 to 100 kmph. Justice AR Joshi observed that if this was so, the car would have taken 7-8 minutes to reach the accident spot at Hill Road from JW Marriott (8-km distance). However, the car took half an hour, starting at 2.15 am and arriving at 2.45 am.
Read more stories on the 2002 hit-and-run case