In an interesting twist to arguments in the 2002 hit-and-run case involving Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, his lawyer argued in the Bombay High Court on Friday that the victim died not because of the actor's car running over him, but as the vehicle came crashing down on him when it was being lifted by a crane.
Justice A R Joshi is hearing an appeal filed by Salman against the five-year jail term awarded to him on May 6 by a sessions court which found him guilty of ramming his car into a shop on September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four others who were sleeping outside.
Salman's lawyer Amit Desai alleged that the victim of the accident Narullah Mehboob Sharif died when the bumper detached after the car was being lifted by a crane. However, the trial court had not considered this.
"It was not a frontal hit...the left side has scratched the shutter. Thereafter, to help out those who were lying underneath the car, a crane was brought according to the evidence given by prosecution witness 26," police inspector Rajendra Kadam, the lawyer argued.
Prosecution witness 11 has told the trial court that until the car was lifted, he was crying for help and so was Narullah....This proves that Narullah was alive after the mishap and it also proves that it was not a frontal hit as the bumper was intact....thereafter, the rescue operation started and the crane was called, he said.
To demonstrate his argument, Salman's lawyer showed the court the bumper of the car which was placed as a piece of evidence. He pointed out that the bumper was damaged on the right side.
"Had it been a frontal hit, the bumper would have been completely damaged," he said and showed the damage on the right side of the bumper.
"This means the hook was attached here....the car slipped away and the bumper was broken on the right side," Salman's lawyer argued.
Debunking the prosecution's case that the car had run over victims, Desai pointed out that there was no blood stains on the pillows and bedsheet of the victims who were sleeping outside the shop on the pavement.
Moreover, the post-mortem report showed that not only the head but the upper part of the abdomen (of the victim), too, was crushed. And this happened after the crane's hook slipped away from the car and it came crashing down on the victim, Desai said.
The defence lawyer argued that the actor's family driver Ashok Singh was driving the car and not Salman. He said he had told this to police but they did not believe him for reasons best known to them.
As regards the prosecution's argument that Ashok Singh had came before the trial court 13 years after the incident to give evidence, Desai said he was not a prosecution witness and thus could not have got a chance to air his views until the prosecution concluded its evidence.
Considering the chequered history of the case, Singh came before the sessions court as a defence witness only after the prosecution evidence was over. Had the case concluded in the magistrate court earlier in 2006, then he would have presented himself there, Desai contended.
Arguments would continue on November 15 after the Diwali vacations.