The defence lawyer in the 2002 hit- and-run case involving Salman Khan today alleged that Mumbai police "tampered with" the Bollywood actor's blood samples to establish he was drunk so as to frame him in a false case.
Khan, accused of ramming his SUV into a bakery in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four others, is facing the charge of 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder'. His lawyer Shrikant Shivade argued that Bombay Prohibition Rules prescribe that a doctor has to decide whether to draw a blood sample from a person, and not the police.
"In this case, Shashikant Pawar of J J hospital has deposed that police asked him to test the sample... This shows an unholy nexus between the doctors and police," said Shivade, making his final argument before sessions judge D W Deshpande.
He also asked why Bandra police did not collect the blood samples at nearby Bhabha Hospital, instead of taking Khan to the government-run JJ Hospital in South Mumbai.
"There is a mention that blood collection facility was not available there. Is this possible? Bhabha Hospital is a reputed hospital. It has an operation theatre and an ICU," Shivade said.
The doctor who drew the sample was not wearing gloves, and he did not add anti-coagulants, which are used to prevent the collected blood from turning into semi-solid mass. Even the preservatives were not added, and in the absence of preservatives, there was a possibility of fermentation of the blood, Shivade said.
"In such a case, the sample would indicate presence of alcohol even if alcohol has not been consumed by the person, or would show higher alcohol content (than consumed)," Khan's lawyer said.
He also claimed that the blood vials were kept in the same room where the tests were conducted, and not separately, so there was a possibility of contamination.
He argued that the Maharashtra medical code too was Not followed and Khan's consent was not taken before extracting the blood. "Consent was not taken....absence of this destroys further examination. The extraction of blood is destroyed (as evidence) because of non-consent," he said.
"Do you want to follow the procedure laid down here, or that of Namibia and Ethiopia," the defence lawyer asked. Alleging tampering with blood samples, Shivade said the samples were collected on September 28, 2002, and sent for tests on September 30. The tests were carried out on October 1. "The evidence is silent about how it was kept, where it was kept and under whose custody," he said.
Shivade also said that samples were sealed by a ward boy, which was questionable. The lawyer also sought to know how the actor's medical examination (after the mishap) was completed within five minutes. "The case paper shows that Salman was brought before the doctor at 2.55 pm and was discharged at 3 pm," he said, questioning testimonies of Dr Shashikant Pawar of J J Hospital, and the then inspector of Bandra police station Kishen Shengal, who supervised the probe.
"The exhibits show Khan's pulse was checked, which was 88 per minute, his eyes were checked for dilation, his blood pressure was checked, which was 138/88, abdomen was examined, which was soft. As far as smell was concerned, it was kept blank which means there was no smell (of alcohol) and also whether he is able to walk straight. Is all this possible in five minutes," Shivade asked.
He referred to another exhibit which showed a police memo at 3 pm, referring to another sample having been taken. "Why was this sample taken particularly when there is a mention that the person examined was discharged at 2.30 pm," he asked. Khan did not attend the proceedings today but his sister Alvira was present in the court.
Shivade contended that the actor was not drunk on the night of the accident, as he was off drinks for some time. "There is a statement of a doctor who said that Khan did not smell of alcohol. A prosecution witness, Francis Fernandes, had told the court earlier that Khan was walking straight and did not smell of alcohol," he said.
Kalpesh Verma, the parking attendant at J W Marriot hotel who accepted a Rs 500 tip from the actor, too didn't smell alcohol on Khan's breath, Shivade said, adding that "merely because cocktails or mocktails were served to Khan's group at 'Rain Bar' a few hours before the mishap does not mean that he (Khan) was drinking".
"Our case is that he (Khan) was having water and not alcohol. They (police) have presumed that he was having Bacardi White Rum because his group had ordered it. Mere presumption does not establish that...," he said. The steward who served drinks and snacks to Khan's group did not say that he saw the actor drinking, the lawyer added.
The defence lawyer further alleged that the bar bills produced by the police to show that Khan's group had been served drinks were "fabricated". He pointed out the evidence of the steward who had told the court that police showed him four bills and asked him to sign them.
Shivade's argument would continue tomorrow.