Mumbai : Bollywood actor Salman Khan's lawyer has argued in the Bombay High Court that the police might have tampered with the actor's Toyota Land Cruiser Lexus which was involved in the 2002 hit-and-run accident.
The Bombay High Court is currently hearing Mr Khan's appeal against the conviction and five-year sentence for crashing his car into a bakery in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four others.
While four to six prosecution witnesses testified at the trial that the front left tyre of the car had burst but the RTO officer who inspected the car said the tyre was in good condition but had only deflated, Mr Khan's lawyer Amit Desai said, arguing before Justice AR Joshi.
"We strongly believe that the tyre, a vital piece of evidence, has been tampered with," said advocate Desai.
He further said that Ashok Singh, the actor's family driver who was driving the car (the trial court rejected this claim and held that Mr Khan was driving the car) went to the Bandra police station and gave his version of the accident.
Mr Singh said that the tyre had burst but the police did not believe him and did not make him prosecution witness, he said.
"PW-1 (panch witness Sambha Kanappa Gowda) has spoken about seeing the front left wheel punctured...the first informant and star witness late Ravindra Patil speaks about left front tyre punctured....PW-27 (inspector Kisan Narayan Sengal, the investigating officer) says in his cross-examination that he did not send the tyre for examination, which means he has also seen it in burst condition," advocate Desai said.
However, Rajendra Keskar, the RTO inspector who inspected the car, said the tyre was in a good condition. "Either he has not come to the site or he saw something else," said Mr Desai, alleging that the car might have been tampered with post-accident.
"If he (the RTO officer) was there, he should have found out that the tyre had burst....and if he was there and has seen something else, someone might have replaced the tyre," the lawyer argued.
"The (police) officers knew what exactly had happened, particularly after what Ashok Singh had stated....PW-27 (the investigating officer) says he interrogated Singh but his statement was not recorded...Why? And now, he is told (by the prosecution) that he comes after 13 years! (to give evidence in the court)," said advocate Desai.
Driver Ashok Singh had gone to the police station immediately after the accident and now, appearing as a defence witness, he told the truth to the trial court (Mumbai sessions court), Mr Khan's lawyer said.
Advocate Desai also disputed the map of the accident site, saying it shows the width of Hill Road from the side of American Express Bakery as 180 feet.
"In fact, yesterday we found that the Bandra-Worli SeaLink on one side is 66 feet, which means a total of 132 feet....here they speak of 180 feet....perhaps the toll junction in the Mumbai-Pune Expressway would be around 180 feet.....in Mumbai no road is 180 feet wide," Mr Desai said.
The width of a football field is 160 feet, he said, saying the map was absurd.
The arguments will continue today.