A court document obtained by a tabloid indicates that the superstar's recent exemption from a court appearance in the hit-and-run case on his 47th birthday was the 83rd such instance in the past decade.
Of all the public appearances that are lined up on his busy diary of commitments, Bollywood superstar and accused in a 2002 hit-and-run case Salman Khan has been let off from the kind that is least expected - those that require his presence at the court of law. A court document obtained by a tabloid has revealed that the actor has been exempted his court appearance a whopping 83 times in the past decade.
On December 26, MiD DAY reported how the Bandra police had failed to serve him the court summons, even though he was spotted in the same week at a high-profile party and shooting in Mehboob Studios ('Cops can't find Salman Khan'). He has also been reporting to work on the sets of his TV show.
Subsequently, Khan was exempted from the court appearance on December 27, which happened to be his 47th birthday. Khan's sisters Alvira and Arpita, and his lawyer Dipesh Mehta appeared at the Bandra court on behalf of the birthday boy.
'Generosity of cops'
The shocking court statistics came to light in a court petition filed by Santosh Daundkar asking about the inordinate delay in the case proceedings. The petition says, 'The Salman hit-and-run case happened in 2002 but the trial in this case is still far to end, even though more than 10 years have elapsed and 90 court hearings have taken place'.
Daundkar's petition accuses the Mumbai police of abetting the star's evasion of the law courts: 'It is the generosity of the Mumbai police which has helped Salman evade the powerful clutches of the law for so long...
A perusal of the roznama (record of daily proceedings) of the Court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Bandra reveals a startling story of how Mumbai police has indulged in nepotistic acts in ensuring that the trial of Salman Khan gets delayed. It is precisely because of this nexus that 10 years have passed but the end of the trial is still far away'.
On June 10 2005, the Bombay High Court had exempted Khan from making personal appearances at court, but conferred upon the trial court the authority to summon him if necessary. Khan has since been making the most of this order to avoid making appearances in court.
Daundkar's petition questions why no application has been made against this order. 'Police has never made an application to the court for personal appearance to expedite the trial. As seen from almost all the 98 pages of the roznama, Salman Khan has remained absent on every date. He has remained absent for more than 82 times from the hearings of the case'.
`The police could have made an application to the trial court to summon him, so that the trial would be speeded up. In other words, the Mumbai Police, especially Bandra police, is helping Khan illegally,` said Abha Singh, Daundkar's lawyer.
On September 28, 2002, Khan was arrested after he allegedly rammed his car into a bakery in Bandra and ran over several people who were sleeping on the pavement, killing one person and injuring four others.
`Salman Khan is getting the unfair advantage of such exemption. It was the duty of the Mumbai police to have moved the appropriate court to get the exemption order cancelled,` said Amit Nalawade, a noted criminal lawyer.
Out of town? Not quite
On December 24, the police told Daundkar that Salman could not be served the summons as he was out of town. On that very day, he was spotted at a party organised by socialite Anu and her husband, businessman Sunny Dewan in Bandra. As a matter of fact, Special Inspector General of Police Parambir Singh was also present at the same party.
`Whether the accused appears in court or doesn't is not the lookout of the police. This is concern of the court and concerned lawyers. The court should issue notice to Salman Khan,` said a police officer on condition of anonymity. Salman's lawyer could not be reached for comment.