Accusing the Mumbai police of being hand-in-glove with Bollywood actor Salman Khan in a bid to "delay" the trial of a hit-and-run case involving him, IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh on Friday sought a high-level probe by the Maharashtra government against the investigators concerned.
Singh has also held the police department responsible for the "little progress" in the trial.
Showing the documents pertaining to the proceedings at the trial court in suburban Bandra during a press conference here, Singh alleged that investigators of the case had done everything possible to ensure that the trial should not progress speedily so that the actor gets benefits, helping him in making films.
"In the beginning, the trial court had ordered to issue summons to 34 witnesses before it, but the police did not serve summons to 24 people. When it came to others, police had informed the court that some could not be traced while others did not accept the summons. Only one witness had appeared before it. Police had deliberately not taken the job of issuing summons seriously," the lawyer alleged.
It also took two years for the police to present the doctor, who treated the injured in the incident, before the court, Singh alleged.
"Before that, two doctors, who had nothing to do with the case, were present before the court. It was absurd. The public prosecutor had sought more time, so that the doctor concerned would be presented before it soon by police. But it took two years," he said.
"We always blame the courts for the delay, but actually the litigants are responsible for the delays. Litigants and defendants are in collusion in Salman Khan's case. Mumbai police is helping Salman Khan evade the law," Singh alleged.
Salman got a major boost when several witnesses became untraceable or summons were not served, even though they all were locals, Singh's wife Abha, who is also a lawyer, alleged.
"Even though the Bombay High court, while granting exemption from personal appearance to Salman Khan in 2005, had given liberty to the trial court to summon the accused when absolutely necessary, the police never filed any application to the court for his personal appearance to expedite the trial despite witnesses turning hostile or remaining untraceable. Taking advantage of the High Court order, the actor remained absent for over 82 times from the hearing of the case," she claimed.
"It also took two years for the police to present the medical officer, who treated the injured in the incident, before the court," Singh alleged. "Before that, two doctors, who had nothing to do with the case, were present before the court. It was absurd. The public prosecutor had sought more time so that the doctor concerned would be presented before it soon by police. But it took two years (for the doctor to depose)," he said.
For the past three years, only three witnesses have been examined. It seems the police have brought Salman's trial almost to a standstill. In the past seven years, since the trial began with the deposition of witnesses, only 16 out of the 47 witnesses have been examined, showing tremendous laxity by the police," Singh claimed.
It was shocking that the actor, who is an accused, has been attending police function during Diwali. "When action is initiated against cops for attending gangsters' parties, then why no action is initiated against cops inviting an accused to their function," the lawyer asked.
He also questioned why police were not insisting on application of the IPC section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) in the case when it had applied in other hit-and-run case. "I am sure money may have been exchanged for delaying the trial by police and hence, ACB should look into the corruption angle," he demanded.
Salman Khan had allegedly rammed his car into a bakery in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four others. The actor was initially charged under section 304 A (II) of IPC for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which attracts a maximum punishment of 10 years’ imprisonment.
The Bombay High Court, however, dropped the charge and he is now being tried for rash and negligent driving and other offences under IPC, Motor Vehicles Act and the Bombay Prohibition Act, which provide for a maximum sentence of two years’ jail term.