FOR BOLLYWOOD, ALL ROADS LEAD TO...
Salman Khan appears at the entrance of his building on Thursday afternoon to see off friend Aamir Khan. For the second day, Bollywood turned out in strength to support the actor sentenced to five years in jail. The other Khan, Shah Rukh, had spent an hour at Salman’s Bandra home before the verdict on Wednesday morning. (Fotocorp pictures)
Mumbai, May 7 (PTI): Salman Khan would have known that rash and negligent driving after drinking can result in deaths, Mumbai sessions judge D.W. Deshpande has said in yesterday's judgment that convicted the actor of culpable homicide in a 2002 hit-and-run case.
Deshpande, who has sentenced the actor to five years' rigorous imprisonment, has said that since Salman lived in the area where the accident took place, he would have known that some people slept on the pavements there.
"The accused is a well-known actor and had knowledge that one should not drive a vehicle without licence.... He also had knowledge that one should not drive after consuming liquor and that too in late night," the 240-page judgment says.
"These are the basic rules. The accused is a regular visitor to 'Rain Bar' as disclosed by witnesses. Prosecution witness 17, Mark D'Souza, has also said that Salman regularly passed by the area."
Salman was accused of ramming his Toyota Land Cruiser into a bakery adjacent to a laundry in suburban Bandra, killing one pavement sleeper and injuring four others. After being convicted he received two days' interim bail from Bombay High Court.
"In short, the accused was having knowledge that the poor labourers were sleeping outside the laundry. He was also having knowledge that he was not possessing licence to drive at the time of incident. Also, he had the knowledge that he should not drive after consumption of liquor," the judgment says.
"Moreover, in blood test, the accused was found to have 0.062mg of alcohol content in blood stream which shows that he was under the influence of liquor."
It is difficult for a person who is under the influence of alcohol to concentrate on driving, particularly at night - so Salman had the knowledge that his act might endanger the lives of others, the judgment says.
"Knowledge of such facts cannot be far away from reality.... In any case it would squarely fall within the definition appearing in Section 304 Part II of the IPC, i.e, culpable homicide not amounting to murder," it says.
Rejecting the defence claim that it was not Salman but the family driver, Ashok Singh, who was behind the wheel at the time, the judgment says: "The prosecution had established beyond doubt that the accused was driving the vehicle at the time of mishap."
It adds: "Ashok Singh is a 'got up' witness who has come to help the accused on instructions from his (Salman's) father Salim Khan."
Deshpande has noted that Salman mentioned Ashok Singh for the first time during the 13-year trial when the actor had his statement recorded earlier this year.
Not once before, during any stage of the trial, had the defence suggested to any of the prosecution witnesses that Singh was driving the car, the court said.
"If Ashok Singh was driving the car at that time and not Salman, then soon after the accident, he (Singh) would have known that one person had died and four others injured."
In his court deposition, Singh had said that he had not been sure how many people were trapped under the car, and that he had learnt only later that one person had been killed and four others injured.
The judgment says Salman drove at great speed and rejects the theory that a tyre had burst, causing the vehicle to swerve.
It dismisses Salman's claim that he did not flee the accident site but stayed back there for some time. The actor did not provide any medical assistance to the injured, it notes.