Bollywood super star Salman Khan has been acquitted by the Bombay High Court (BHC) of all charges in a 2002 hit-and-run case on Thursday as the ‘prosecution failed to establish its case against the star’, Times of India reported.
“On the basis of evidence submitted by the prosecution, Salman cannot be convicted,” a BHC judge said while announcing the verdict. “Prosecution has failed to establish its case against the appellant accused (Salman Khan) on all charges.”
“The appeal is allowed and the decision of the trial court is quashed and set aside. Salman Khan is acquitted of all charges,” judge Anil Ramchandra Joshi told the Bombay High Court. The Bollywood star had earlier been sentenced to five years in prison at the outcome of his trial in May.
Justice AR Joshi pointed out that Salman can’t be convicted because of “various shortcomings in investigations and prosecution’s evidence. Salman had appealed to the high court to overturn a sessions court judgment in May that held him guilty and handed out a five-year jail term in the 2002 hit-and-run case.
Justice Joshi said after seeking Salman’s presence in court at the time of pronouncing the verdict that doubt arises over involvement of appellant on charges. Investigation was conducted in faulty manner with scant regard to procedure.
Yesterday, the high court opened a window of hope for the popular actor when it had observed that the prosecution had not convincingly proved the 49-year-old actor was drunk or driving his Toyota Land Cruiser when the vehicle ran over five sleeping people on a pavement, one of whom died later, in Bandra West on September 28, 2002.
Justice Joshi said it was difficult to rely on the testimony of Late Ravindra Patil, the police guard who was in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
He observed that Patil, who died of tuberculosis in 2007, was not a “wholly reliable witness” because of the numerous changes in his statements during the course of the trial, although he was the lone witness to testify that Salman was drunk at the wheel.