In another development in the Salman Khan 2002 hit-and-run case, a prime witness has alleged that his former advocate offered him Rs 5 lakh to change his statement.
Salman Khan outside sessions court yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Muslim Niyamat Sheikh (26) was one of the four people injured when the actor’s Toyota Land Cruiser rammed into the American Express Bakery on Bandra’s Hill Road. One person was killed in the incident that occurred on September 28, 2002.
Salman Khan arrives at the Sessions court for a hearing in the hit-and-run case yesterday. Pic/PTI
In an affidavit filed with the court yesterday, Sheikh has alleged that his former lawyer, Mukesh Pandey, tried to influence him to change his statement by offering him a bribe.
The alleged conversation between Muslim Sheikh and the advocate in which the witness is offered Rs 5 lakh to turn hostile
Pandey is said to have been instrumental in helping the victims, including Sheikh, to get compensation. He also reportedly helped them open bank accounts and stood guarantor for them. As per the affidavit filed in the court, Sheikh received two phone calls from the same number on Sunday at around 9.30 pm (see conversation).
In the first call, a man told him: “Paanch lakh le lo aur palat jao” (take R5 lakh and change your statement). When Sheikh refused the offer, the man called him again. This time, the witness disconnected the call. The next day i.e. Monday, Sheikh approached the Bandra police and submitted a written complaint, seeking a probe into the matter.
Investigations by cops revealed that the SIM card from which the call was made, was registered in the name of Pandey, a High Court lawyer. Police said that the same evening around 6 pm they traced Pandey’s address, but he was not available at home. A small kid who received the police team at his residence gave them the advocate’s card. The police subsequently left.
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Senior police inspector Ramchandra Dhawale of Bandra police station said, “We have received an order from the court to investigate the matter. We will appoint an inspector-level officer in the case, who will properly look into the matter and submit a report in the next hearing. The court will decide if an FIR is to be lodged.”
Police said that till date, there is no mention or allegation against Salman Khan. Khan had earlier been booked for rash and negligent driving and other charges. The court is conducting a re-trial of the case, after charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder were added recently. The offence attracts a ten-year sentence.
Three witnesses identify Salman Khan
Three witnesses in the 2002 hit-and-run case identified Salman Khan yesterday in a sessions court, saying they had seen him getting down from the car which had met with an accident in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002.
The witnesses Manu Khan, Mohammed Kalim Iqbal Pathan and Muslim Sheikh were among the injured who were run over by the car when they were sleeping on a footpath near American Express Bakery on that day. All three were workers of the bakery.
The prosecution has alleged the actor was driving the car under the influence of liquor. So far, four witnesses have deposed in the re-trial; another three shall be examined on May 19. All the witnesses told Judge D W Deshpande that they saw the actor getting down from the car.
He was held by the people who were shouting “neechey utro” (get down). Salman was held by the people but another person, who also got down from the vehicle, said he was a policeman and hence they released the actor who ran away from the spot, they said.
The other side
Advocate Mukesh Pandey said, “The police are playing games with me. I have not made any such calls. Also, I have no connections with Salman’s family. In fact, I had helped the cops trace the witness in the recent case. I gave an interview that all the witnesses are present in the court and the Bandra police is unwilling to trace them.”