news Wednesday, May 06, 2015 - 05:30
It was improbable that Ashok Singh was driver the car, the Mumbai Sessions judge said on Wednesday, convicting actor Salman Khan of killing a pedestrian-dweller and injuring four others. Thirteen years after the incident occurred, sessions court judge DW Deshpande told Khan that he was “under the influence of alcohol” and that “it is improbable that Ashok Singh was driving the car”. Khan has been convicted of killing Nurullah Mehboob Sharif who succumbed to his injuries and injuring Munna Malai Khan, Kalim Mohammed Pathan, Abdullah Rauf Shaikh and Muslim Sheikh who were sleeping on the pavement in the Bandra area of Mumbai, very close to the actor’s house. The defence had in March presented a witness, Ashok Singh, who had told the court that it was he who had been driving on the night September 28 and that Khan had been sitting beside him. Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat had argued that it was highly improbable that Khan would have stayed silent all these years and continued to suffer the trial. Singh, Gharat told the court, had been employed with Khan’s father Salim Khan since 1990. In an apparent acceptable of the prosecution’s argument, the judge said: “You were driving the car”, and that it was “improbable” that the driver was Singh. The 49-year-old actor was in the witness box when the judge asked him, “You’re facing maximum punishment of ten years, what do you have to say? The actor reportedly did not reply to the question, looked down and glanced at his defence lawyer instead. “You did not have the license to drive”, the judge also reportedly added, according to various media sources. The court also made references to the Alistair Perreira hit-and-run case in Mumbai and the Nikhil Nanda BMW case from Delhi while pronouncing the verdict. Perreira had been sentenced to three years in prison for running over 15 sleeping labourers at a pavement in Mumbai in 2006. Nanda had run over six people including three police officers in Delhi in 2008 and was sentenced to two years in prison. His sentence was later reduced to time served, a large fine and two years of community service by the Supreme Court in 2012.  Khan’s lawyer reportedly pleaded with the judge to reduce the sentence to two years and a fine, asking the court to consider the actor’s humanitarian work. The sentence is yet to be handed out.