The Bombay high court has said that since the prosecution had failed to establish its case that actor Salman Khan was drunk and that he was driving the vehicle that ran over people sleeping on a Bandra footpath on September 28, 2002, killing one person, it could not delve into the matter of who was behind the wheel.
In a 305-page detailed order that was put up on the court’s website on Wednesday, six days after the court acquitted Salman Khan of all charges, Justice AR Joshi said the prosecution had “failed to establish its case beyond reasonable doubt” and that it had relied entirely on circumstantial evidence.
Justice Joshi said that while Nurulla did die as a result of being hit by the car, considering the prosecution’s failure to establish its case against Salman — that he was driving the car and that he was drunk — the court could not delve into anything further.
“Nurulla’s death was due to being run over by the vehicle. Still it will not lead this court to hold more than this as earlier this court has held that the prosecution has failed to establish the case against the accused on all the counts as to driving, that also in a drunken state. In summing up, it must be mentioned that on the main broad aspects as to the driving and drunkenness, the prosecution has not brought that material on record to point out only the guilt of the appellant accused as almost entire evidence of the prosecution is in the nature of circumstantial evidence,” Justice Joshi said.
“Here it is not a question of believing or disbelieving a defence given, but here the question is whether the prosecution has established its case as to driving and also drunken driving against the appellant (Salman). The evidence of defence witness is to be viewed with such caution and to see whether on those probabilities put forth by the defence witness, has the prosecutions established its case beyond reasonable doubt.”
“Evidence brought before the court by the prosecution has not reached that standard of proof which is required to establish the guilt of the present appellant–accused (Salman) beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
Justice Joshi pointed out various loopholes and omissions in the prosecution’s theory, particularly when it came to presenting both “minor evidences” and crucial witnesses’ testimonies.”\
“There is variance in the substantive evidence of the prosecution witnesses and mainly of the injured persons and also of the police officer. There are variances in factual positions when it comes to issues such as sealing of blood samples, preparing a site map, examining the vehicle involved in the incident,” Justice Joshi said.
He added that such discrepancies, even if the prosecution termed most of its mistakes as “minor,” could not be disregarded by the court.
“The benefit of every reasonable doubt which arises out of the evidence adduced, must necessarily be given in favour of the accused. 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 is charged. On the basis of this type of evidence, the appellant cannot be convicted,” he said.