Retrial a lifeline for Salman Khan: Santosh Daundkar

Saturday, 7 December 2013 - 8:24am IST | Agency: DNA
Prosecution says building case again from scratch, with many key witnesses having relocated, will be tough.

A day after the sessions court ordered the prosecution to initiate a fresh trial in actor Salman Khan’s alleged hit-and-run case of 2002, a social activist and his lawyer said this might help the actor have an easy escape.

The prosecution said it will be a tough job for the state as it will have to dig out the case once again, starting the whole process of tracing the witnesses, most of whom have relocated since.

Assistant public prosecutor J Kenjalkar, who had opposed a retrial in the case on the ground that it was a delaying tactic adopted by the actor, told dna, “We will have to start the case from scratch now, trace all the witnesses who had supported the prosecution’s case and record their evidence before the court.”

Advocate Abha Singh, who is appearing on behalf of social activist Santosh Daundkar, said this development is like a lifeline to the actor. “The battery of lawyers, who are assisting the actor, now stand a chance to build up their case. In 2004, the police, allegedly with an intention to safeguard the actor, had tried to delay the trial by producing wrong witnesses before the court. Finally, we had to intervene and file a criminal case against the errant policeman. Further, it was also difficult for the prosecution to produce all the witnesses before the court to depose.”

The prosecution said that earlier, when the matter was heard before the magistrate court, it had a total of 39 witnesses, but only 17 supported its case.

Singh also said that because the accused is a celebrity, the police weren’t strict in investigating the case. “Deceased police officer Ravindra Patil, who was present with the actor during the incident, wasn’t ready to depose against him. It was only when he was reprimanded for it, he recorded his statement before the magistrate. But now that he is no more, it is up to the court to decide if it will consider Patil’s evidence. If the defence, through its arguments, reaches a point where Patil’s statement cannot be considered, and if the court accepts those arguments, the case will fall apart.”

Outcome can swing either way: Defence counsel
Even as the prosecution has expressed concern over a retrial being ordered in the alleged hit-and-run case in 2002, the lawyer defending actor Salman Khan has claimed that the development isn’t a great relief for the actor.

Advocate Srikant Shivde, who is appearing on behalf of the actor, claimed that the development could come up as a chance for the prosecution to improve its case, if at all its evidence against the actor wasn’t strong enough.

“As per the new amended section 323 of the Criminal Procedure Code, this is a regular procedure followed by any court, when a lower court’s matter is tried by a higher court (in this case the sessions court). Hence, this development is nothing new,” Shivde told dna.

When asked if the development would have any adverse effect on the case, Shivde said, “As the court had added a new charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against my client recently, it will help the state build its case to a large extent. However, the development won’t have any adverse effect on the defence’s case either.”

When asked if the statement of late police officer Ravindra Patil, which he had recorded before the magistrate against the actor, would be considered by the court, Shivde maintained that it was up to the prosecution and the court to decide if the court wants to consider the statement.

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