While giving Bollywood actor Salman Khan benefit of doubt in the 2002 hit-and-run case, the Bombay High Court has observed that the prosecution’s case was weak and appreciation of evidence by the trial court was not legal and proper.
“….in the considered view of this court, the appreciation of the evidence as is done by the trial court in the present matter is not proper and legal as per the settled principles of criminal jurisprudence,” Justice A R Joshi said in the 350-page judgement which was uploaded on the High Court website last night.
The judgement was orally pronounced in the court on December 10. The actor was present in the court when the operative part of the verdict was read out.
“In this case, considering the various weaknesses in the case of the prosecution, various shortcomings such as non-examination of necessary and appropriate witnesses, the omissions and contradictions in the evidence of the injured witnesses which go to the root of the matter, definitely a doubt has arisen as to the involvement of the appellant for the offences with which he was charged,” the judge said.
On the basis of this type of evidence, the appellant cannot be convicted though the apparent perception might be different as appearing in the mind of a common man, Justice Joshi, who retires on December 21, remarked.
“…this is not a case in which prosecution has successfully established its case for all the charges,” says the judgement.
On May 6 this year, Additional Sessions judge D W Deshpande had held Khan guilty on all counts including culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sentenced him to five years’ rigorous imprisonment.
The High Court overturned the lower court judgement completely by acquitting Salman of all the charges.