Bollywood mega star Salman Khan will step into the witness box on Friday to record his statement on the 13-year-old hit-and-run case in which he allegedly ran his vehicle over pavement dwellers here. A man was killed and four others were injured.
Salman has been ordered to personally appear before Additional Sessions Judge D.W. Deshpande to record his statement under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the evidence and sequence of events in the case.
The development follows the closure of submission of evidence against the actor by prosecutor Pradeep Gharat and is the crucial stage in the ongoing day-to-day re-trial before the final arguments begin.
Judge Deshpande on Wednesday rejected a plea by Salman's lawyer Shrikant Shivade for adjournment for three weeks as the actor was also required to appear before a court in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, in a case of possessing arms and poaching a blackbuck.
In the early hours of September 28, 2002, Salman's white Toyota Land Cruiser rammed into the American Express Bakery in Bandra, close to his seafront home in Galaxy Apartments. He fled from the accident site.
One pavement dweller, sleeping outside the bakery, was killed and four others were injured, leading to Salman's arrest by police later that morning.
Initially, the high-profile case was tried from September 2005 before the Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate Court.
In October 2006, 10 charges were framed against the actor, including one pertaining to rash and negligent driving under the Indian Penal Code, attracting a maximum punishment of two years in prison.
In a dramatic twist to the case, after almost a decade, in January 2013, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate V.S. Patil slapped enhanced charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against Salman, which stipulates a 10-year jail term.
The case was transferred from the Metropolitan Magistrate Court to the Mumbai Sessions Court which upheld the ruling and the trial started in sessions court where it has been going on since June 2013.
In another twist, in December 2013, the sessions court ordered a fresh trial in the case since Salman pleaded that the evidence produced before the magistrate's court should be discarded as he was now facing a more serious charge.
His lawyer also argued that Salman was not being given an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses on the enhanced charges slapped by the sessions court in June 2013, though the prosecution cried foul and alleged delay tactics by the actor.
Accordingly, since December 2013, the re-trial has been proceeding on a day-to-day basis, and the prosecution has completed its submission of evidence against Salman.
The actor is also facing charges under the Motor Vehicles Act, and the Bombay Prohibition Act.