All eyes are set on the hit-and-run case in which Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, charged with killing one person and injuring four by ramming his car into a shop in 2002, would step into the box on Friday to put up his defence and explain the circumstances that led to the mishap.
It would be a crucial test for the 49-year-old actor as he gets an opportunity to give his version about the mishap that occurred in the wee hours of September 28, 2002 when his car ran over people sleeping on pavement outside a bakery in suburban Bandra.
Salman Khan. File picture
Judge D W Deshpande has summoned Khan to appear on Friday to give his statement under section 313 of CrPc which comes at the fag end of the trial after the prosecution closed its evidence by examining more than 25 witnesses in court. Under this provision of CrPc, not only the accused gets a chance to put across his contention on the evidence adduced by the prosecution but also the court can ask him questions to clarify any ambiguity that may have cropped up during the trial, special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat said.
After his statement is recorded, Khan would also get an opportunity to examine defence witnesses if he wants to do so. The court would then hear arguments of both the sides before giving its verdict, Gharat said.
This is a fresh trial being held in a sessions court after a Magistrate added the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder which lays down punishment upto ten years. The prosecution has alleged that the actor was under the influence of liquor and examined witnesses to prove that before the mishap he had gone along with his friends to a bar in a seven star hotel in the late hours on the ill-fated day. It has alleged that he did not have a driving licence. The prosecution has also alleged that Khan was driving his Land Cruiser SUV in a rash and negligent manner.
In this regard, it has relied upon the statement of Khan's police bodyguard Ravindra Patil to a Magistrate earlier that he had asked the actor not to drive rashly or else he would meet with an accident but he did not pay heed to his advice. However, Patil passed away during the trial and on a prosecution plea, the court has taken on record his statement but will decide on its evidence value later.
On the other hand, Khan has denied allegations that he was under the influence of liquor and that he was driving the car at the time of mishap.