New Delhi: The Maharashtra government today moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court's verdict acquitting Bollywood actor Salman Khan in the 2002 hit-and-run case which left one person dead and four others injured.
The petition by the Maharashtra government follows the Bombay High Court's judgement acquitting Salman of all charges, overturning the trial court's order that pronounced a five-year jail term for him.
“The Bombay High Court has erred in not appreciating the prosecution evidence. The trial court's order convicting Salman Khan was correct and should be upheld,” Sandeep Shinde, the public prosecutor who has been associated with the case, said about the contents of the special leave petition (SLP).
The High Court, in its verdict passed on December 10, 2015, had held that prosecution had failed to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that the actor was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident and was drunk.
The judgement by the High Court had come on an appeal by the superstar, seven months after he was pronounced guilty by trial court of running over five people sleeping on a pavement outside a laundry in suburban Bandra with his Toyota Land Cruiser, killing one and causing injury to four others on October 28, 2002.
The HC had rejected as “wholly unreliable” the statement of eyewitness Ravindra Patil, former police bodyguard of Salman, recorded by a magistrate in which he had accused the actor of driving under the influence of liquor.
The judge had said that Patil was a “wholly unreliable” witness because he had subsequently made “improvements” in his statement to the magistrate.
Patil, the first informant in the case, in the FIR filed soon after the accident had not accused Salman of having consumed liquor but only said he was “speeding” against his advice.
The prosecution's case during the trial had firmly rested on the statement of Patil, who died in 2007, much before the case was tried afresh under more serious charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The magistrate's court had conducted the trial for a much lesser offence of causing death by rash and negligent driving.
On May 6 last year, a sessions court had convicted Salman in the case in which one person was killed and four others were injured when his vehicle had crushed them when they were asleep on a pavement outside a laundry.
(With PTI inputs)