Mumbai: A witness in the 2002 hit-and-run case involving superstar Salman Khan on Wednesday said the actor was not smelling of liquor when he met him at his place a few hours after the mishap.
The prosecution’s case is that Salman’s car had rammed into a bakery in suburban Bandra killing one person and injuring four others who were sleeping outside on the pavement in the wee hours of September 28, 2002.
“I met Salman on the next day morning at 9 AM at his place (few hours after the mishap at around 3 AM) and hugged him, but he did not smell of alcohol,” Chiky Pandey, brother of actor Chunky Pandey, told the court of sessions Judge D W Deshpande.
During cross-examination, Pandey told Salman’s lawyer Srikant Shivade that the junction near the American Express Bakery (where the accident had taken place) was always busy with slow vehicular traffic movement.
Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat re-examined him on this point asking him whether there was heavy traffic at this junction all the 24 hours, to which the witness replied: “Not always.”
Significantly, the mishap had occurred in the wee hours when there is hardly any traffic on road.
Pandey told the prosecutor during examination-in-chief that he had helped Salman buy an imported car for Rs.14 lakhs from Abdul Rehman through a customs clearing agent. (This question was asked as it was the same car which had met with an accident on the ill-fated day).
Pandey further said that Salman had given two cheques of Rs.12 lakhs and Rs.2 lakhs to car owner Abdul Rehman. At the time of mishap, the vehicle was in the name of its owner and had not yet been transferred in Salman’s name, he said.
Another witness, Salim Patel, a customs clearing agent, who had helped the actor in getting the car cleared from the customs after it was imported from Dubai, explained to the court the import procedures.
Salman did not appear before the court Wednesday as he was busy with the wedding preparations of his sister Arpita.
The court asked him to appear on November 24 and 25 when other witnesses would be examined.
The sessions court had on December 5 last year ordered a fresh trial in the case on the ground that witnesses had not been examined in the context of aggravated charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which was invoked against the actor by a magisterial court midway through the hearing.
The actor had earlier been tried by a magistrate for a lesser offence of causing death by negligence, which entailed an imprisonment of two years, while the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder attracts a 10-year sentence.
The magistrate, after examining 17 witnesses, had ruled that a case of culpable homicide was made out against the actor and referred it to the sessions court.
The trial of cases of culpable homicide are conducted by courts higher than magisterial courts.
On September 28, 2002, the actor’s car had allegedly rammed into a bakery, killing one person and injuring four others sleeping on the pavement outside.