MUMBAI — In a dramatic twist in the ongoing retrial of Bollywood actor Salman Khan's hit-and-run case, his driver Ashok Singh has confessed to being responsible for the accident, a lawyer said here on Monday.
"The driver Ashok Singh has been put up by the defence. He has told the court that he was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident," public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat told media persons here.
In an Indian Express report, Singh, 42, described how the accident took place. “A tyre burst and the car was dragged to the left….I tried to turn the steering wheel but it was hard, then I tried to apply brakes but by then the car had climbed the stairs of bakery. I was in a state of shock and Salman was sitting on the left side. He tried to open the door but it got jammed. He got down from my side which was on the right,” he said, replying to questions asked by Salman’s lawyer Shrikant Shivade.
During the cross-examination by special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat, Singh denied that he was giving a false statement because he had been paid a huge amount of money.
Singh, who revealed that he had been working for Khan's father Salim Khan (renowned script-writer) since 1990, stopped short of saying he was capable of sacrificing his life for the actor, but did admit that he was "devoted."
When asked why he kept quiet all these years, then, especially when he knew that Khan was facing charges, he replied that he "didn't know what to do," according to the Indian Express report. He added that he hadn't consulted a lawyer and finally came to the court after Salim Khan urged him to do so.
Singh’s version contradicts that of constable Ravindra Patil, who died of TB during the course of the trial. According to Patil, who filed the first complaint, it was Salman Khan, who, after having drinks, was driving the car. Singh is the first defence witness to depose. Khan’s lawyer said he would inform the court tomorrow if he wanted to examine more witnesses.
The next hearing of this case will be held on Wednesday, April 1.
What happened that night, exactly?
Singh had reportedly been asked to pick up Khan from the JW Marriott hotel at 1.30 am that day by Altaf, another driver who works for the star.
Singh said he reached the hotel in auto-rickshaw, and saw the actor sitting on the driver’s side with engine running and air-conditioning on. As Altaf had left, Singh got into the driver’s seat; Salman sat on his left and his friend Kamaal Khan and constable Ravindra Patil, the actor’s police bodyguard, sat behind, he said.
After the accident, Singh said, he dialled `100′ and informed the police, then went to Bandra police station and told the officers there about the accident. He was asked to sit on a bench outside. When Khan arrived there, he was arrested. He told the actor he suspected something fishy as police did not take down his (Singh’s) complaint/statement, Singh added.
(With inputs from PTI)
Also Read: Salman Khan Denies He Was Driving The Car