On 10 December 2015, Bombay High Court announced that Salman Khan has been cleared of all charges in the 2002 hit-and-run and drunk-and-drive case, that killed one and injured four persons. According to the high court, all the statements of eyewitnesses were inconsistent and therefore Salman wins the hit-and-run 2002 case.
The court said, “Prosecution has failed to establish the case against the appellant of driving and that too under the influence of alcohol”. The statements of the eyewitnesses were inconsistent, too. One of the injured had claimed that he had seen the actor exiting from the right side of the car and the bodyguard (Mumbai police constable Ravindra Patil) from the left.
Another claimed he saw Mr. Khan falling twice, getting up and leaving the scene.
A third eyewitness claimed he had seen him emerge from the driver’s side of the car. However, he did not remember whether the car was a right-hand drive or a left-hand drive.
The fourth person claimed he had seen the actor on the spot, but had not specified his location.”
The accident took place on the night of 28 September 2002 outside the American Express Bakery in Bandra, where some people were sleeping on the pavement. The actor resides in Bandra and was returning home when the car rammed into the bakery.
On the other hand, the survivors of the case expressed their disappointment on the court’s verdict, and demanded “justice and compensation.”
One of the survivors, Abdulla said, “We have waited for 13 long years to receive justice and finally Salman was acquitted today. If the court had to pronounce a judgement in his favour it could have done so many years back. What was the point in making us wait for so many years. I was injured, I broke my leg. I have small children but I cannot work because of my injuries. How do I earn and make my children eat?”
Moreover, the testimony of the star-witness, Ravindra Patil, former police bodyguard of the actor, who died in 2007, proved ineffective as the judge said that Patil was a “wholly unreliable witness” because he had made improvements subsequently in his statement given to a magistrate.
According to Patil’s statement, he was seated in the front, next to the driver, in the Land Cruiser. He stated, “They (Salman Khan and Kamaal Khan) came outside the (J W Marriot) hotel at about 2:15 am. Salman sat… (behind) the steering (wheel)… I sat near the driver’s seat.He (Salman Khan) was drunk and was driving. He could not control his motor car while taking the right turn and it went on the footpath. The people were sleeping on the footpath. The motor car ran over (them).”
Questioning the high court’s verdict, Chief Public Prosecutor Sandeep Shinde said, “The fact remains that an innocent man was killed and four others were injured. Who is responsible for that? What kind of message are we sending out to society? Are we saying any high-profile person can hijack the system?”