After repeated adjournments and admonition by the court over missing statements of witnesses, the trial in the hit-and-run case against actor Salman Khan is set to resume from September 24 following production of the documents before a sessions court.
The prosecution informed the court trying the case that all but one of the 63 original statements of witnesses and case diaries that had gone missing from the custody of police have been found and placed them before judge D W. Deshpande. The court was told the lone missing statement will also be traced soon.
The trial in the case had hit a roadblock in July when the court was informed that the original statements of the witnesses had disappeared. The court was again informed in August that case diaries relating to the case too were not traceable, inviting reprimand from the judge, who directed the police to locate the documents at the earliest for the trial to recommence.
Following this, Mumbai Police commissioner Rakesh Maria ordered a probe and the documents were found at Bandra Police Station on August 26.
Salman’s lawyer Srikant Shivade had earlier insisted that under the law trial cannot continue in the absence of the original statements of the witnesses, while the prosecution had contended that as per practice in Mumbai courts it can go on with true copies which were available.
After the newly-appointed public prosecutor in the case Pradeep Gharat produced the documents, the judge took it on record and asked the prosecution to proceed with the examination of witnesses from September 24. So far 11 witnesses have deposed in the case.
Salman is likely to appear before the court on September 24.
Gharat, who has conducted trials in several important cases, including the multi-crore rupees Telgi fake stamp paper case, was recently appointed special public prosecutor in the case against Salman Khan and appeared for the first time today.
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 actoby 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. Trial of cases of culpable homicide can be 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.