Almost 13 years ago, FIR No. 326 was registered in Bandra Police Station against Salman Khan as he recklessly drove over five people killing one and severely injuring four of them. He allegedly rammed his Toyota Land Cruiser into American Express Bakery on Hill Road junction in Bandra under the influence of alcohol. And then on 6th May 2015, he was found guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and was sentenced to 5 years of jail.
Although, the justice has been served, it took considerable amount of time for the court to reach this decision. Here are few reasons that kept delaying this case.
1. The Defence Theory
The defense kept fixating on the fact that Salman was not at the wheel. To support the statement, defence presented a ‘confession’ by his driver and also suggested that the victims were killed by a crane, not the car.
2. The Unstable Witnesses
Many witnesses including the victims kept changing their statements that prolonged the duration to a certain extent.
3. Disappearance of the Key Witness
Salman’s police bodyguard, Ravindra Patil was the key witness of the case but he disappeared under mysterious circumstances during the first trial after he testified against Khan. However, his death in 2007 gave the defence a lot of scope to raise reasonable doubts against his whole stand.
4. Lawyers’ Schedules and Holidays
Lawyers can be busy in other courts, the judge might be on leave, national holidays, summer breaks and lot of glitches in the schedule also kept the case from moving with required pace.
5. Witness not appearing
This reason was one of the major reasons for the delay and pushed the case for at least three years.
6. Disappearance of Evidence
Several documents disappeared during the trial which again became responsible for lengthening the trial period.
7. Attention Towards Pending Cases
Indian Judicial System has this pattern of paying more attention to the cases that are old and pending. Salman’s verdict pending from 2002 has been declared in 2015. Hence in 2002, a 1989 case might be the ‘significant’ case.
8. Amendment in the Charge
Firstpost wrote , “The original charges framed included one under Section 304 IPC. This was challenged before the High Court, which in 2003 amended the charge and replaced Section 304 IPC with Section 304-A. Simply put: the accused must have committed the act/illegal omission with the knowledge that this would lead to death, in contrast to Section 304-A’s negligent act, which doesn’t require one to have such knowledge.”