2002 hit-and-run: RTO used discretion to give VIP licence No 786 to Salman

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Mumbai: The RTO reserves certain licence numbers for allotting them to applicants as per its discretion and that is how actor Salman Khan was given a special VIP licence number 786, a witness today informed a sessions court hearing the 2002 hit-and-run case.

He was explaining the procedure adopted by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) on allotment of a special VIP number to Khan whose car had rammed into a bakery in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002, in which one person was killed and four others were injured.

The witness, an inspector in the RTO, was examined by prosecutor Pradeep Gharat after evidence was adduced in the court to show that the actor was allotted a special VIP number. The evidence also showed that the entire page in licence register was blank except for a single entry regarding issue of licence to the actor.

The inspector told the court that Assistant Regional Transport Officers had the power to reserve certain numbers and allot them to applicants on the basis of specific request made by them.

Khan too had made a request for allotment of licence number 786 to him and that was allotted to him, he told the Court of Sessions Judge D W Deshpande.

Asked whether it was mandatory that entries in the licence register should be consecutive or follow each other continuously, he replied in the negative.

“We reserve some numbers and allot them to applicants on requests made by them,” said the witness.

In the cross-examination by defence lawyer Srikant Shivade, he said there was no law which permitted allotment of VIP licence numbers to applicants and RTO used its discretion in this regard.

To another question, the inspector denied that he had fabricated evidence and was misleading the court.

“I cannot say under what circumstances the page in the licsence register in which Salman Khan’s entry appears, was written”, he said.

Replying to the defence lawyer, the witness said he did not know after how many days the entry of Khan’s license number was written in the register. Besides, he was unaware as to who had made the entries in the register.

Earlier, the same witness had said that the actor did not possess license in 2002 when his car met with an accident and that he had procured a new licence in 2004.

Another witness, a woman constable, told the court that she had received a letter from Bandra police station asking her to serve summons to a doctor who had conducted the post mortem of a person who was killed in the 2002 mishap involving the actor’s car.

“When I contacted Dr Sanap he told me on telephone that he was retired and settled down in USA. I then informed my senior accordingly.”

This witness was examined to bring on record that Dr Sanap has settled abroad. However, the doctor had given a statement before a magistrate in the trial earlier and the prosecution intends to rely on this statement.

Prosecutor Gharat said he would soon make an application to reply on the statement of Dr Sanap and Ravindra Patil, the actor’s police bodyguard, who has passed away. Both these witness cannot depose and hence the prosecution intends to rely on their statements.

More than 20 witnesses have already been examined and a few more are left.

The case, which has dragged on for over a decade, took a twist when a city magistrate, after examining 17 witnesses, held that the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was made out against 49-year-old actor, and referred the case to the sessions court which alone is competent to try the offence.

The charge of culpable homicide attracts a 10-year sentence. Earlier, the charge against Khan was causing death by negligence, which entails imprisonment of up to two years.

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