Demanding a high-level probe by the Maharashtra government, IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh on Friday blamed the police for abusing power and violating laws to benefit Salman Khan in a bid to "delay" the trial in a hit-and-run case, in which the actor is the prime accused.
He demanded the probe against the investigators concerned, holding them responsible for the trial progressing at "a snail's pace" and "abuse of power".
Addressing the media, Singh, accompanied by his wife Abha Singh, said, "Many are wondering that in the hit-and-run case involving NRI Nooriya Haveliwala the trial got over in about 2 years and in Allister Pareira case, it happened in just about one year. But Salman Khan's case is more than 10 years old, yet the end of the trial is nowhere in sight."
Showing documents of court proceedings in Salman's case, Singh said "during the initial stage of the trial, the magistrate's court in Bandra had issued summons to 39 witnesses. But police did not serve summons to 24 of them.
They served summons to 13 witnesses, in which only one person remained present before the court. Two witnesses refused to accept the summons, Singh alleged.
Noting that it was the duty of the police to produce the witnesses, Singh alleged that police had failed to produce requisite witnesses even though most of them were known and based in the city.
"When summons were issued by the court again, some witnesses had appeared, but the prosecution had decided not to examine them and dropped them as witnesses, despite the charge sheet stated them as witnesses. There could never have been such a strange coincidence, unless and until there was some manipulation at play," he alleged.
"We always blame the courts for the delay, but actually the litigants are responsible for the delays. Litigants and defendants are in collusion in Salman Khan's case. Mumbai Police is helping Salman Khan evade the law," Singh alleged.
Salman got a major boost when several witnesses became untraceable or summons were not served, even though they all were locals, Singh's wife Abha, who is also a lawyer, alleged.
"Even though the Bombay High court, while granting exemption from personal appearance to Salman Khan in 2005, had given liberty to the trial court to summon the accused when absolutely necessary, the police never filed any application to the court for his personal appearance to expedite the trial despite witnesses turning hostile or remaining untraceable.
"Taking advantage of the High Court order, the actor remained absent for over 82 times from the hearing of the case," she claimed.
"But in sensational 2G trial case, every accused had to remain present in every date since the trial has to be expedited.
"It also took two years for the police to present the medical officer, who treated the injured in the incident, before the court," Singh alleged.
"Before that, two doctors, who had nothing to do with the case, were present before the court. It was absurd. The public prosecutor had sought more time so that the doctor concerned would be presented before it soon by police. But it took two years (for the doctor to depose)," he said.
"For the past three years, only three witnesses have been examined. It seems the police have brought Salman's trial almost to a standstill. In the past seven years, since the trial began with the deposition of witnesses, only 16 out of the 47 witnesses have been examined, showing tremendous laxity by the police," Singh claimed.
Even the public prosecutor became irregular in appearing before the court as the magistrate had observed, "It appears that the public prosecutor of this case is not appearing regularly.
"With witnesses becoming untraceable and many becoming hostile and even evasive, police never sought cancellation of bail to the 'Dabangg' actor on the ground that he was using his powerful position to influence the police and witnesses."
It was shocking that the actor, who is an accused, has been attending police function during Diwali.
"When action is initiated against cops for attending gangsters' parties, then why no action is initiated against cops inviting an accused to their function," the lawyer asked.
He also questioned why police were not insisting on application of the IPC section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) in the case when it had applied in other hit-and-run case.
"I am sure money may have been exchanged for delaying the trial by police and hence, ACB should look into the corruption angle," he demanded.