The Bombay High Court on Thursday acquitted Salman Khan of all charges in the 2002 hit-and-run case in which one person was killed and four injured. The actor was earlier convicted and sentenced to five years in jail. He's now a free man.
Here are the most pressing questions about the case that has dragged on for 13 years and still remain unresolved:
Who killed Nurullah Sharif ?
If it wasn't Salman Khan's bad driving what was it? Source: PTI
Sharif was the lone casualty of the accident in which four others were injured.
While the prosecution has said that it was the Land Cruiser driven by actor Salman Khan killed him but the actor's lawyer has claimed that it could be the car being dropped on him after it had run over him. According to the actor's lawyers, because the man may have still been alive when he was taken to the hospital and he died there, therefore it can't be blamed on the actor running over him.
So basically a car runs over man, man dies, but accident can't be blamed on the driver of the car.
Did the driver do it?
Ashok Singh. Source: PTI
Witnesses had said they had seen the actor at the site of the accident on September 28, 2002 and saw him leave after the accident without attempting to help the victims in any way. When a team went to his residence in Bandra , Salman slipped out and later surrendered himself to the police.
But on March 30, 2015 a driver with the family turned up in a court that was conducting the trial and said that he was the man behind the wheel of the SUV on the night of the accident. Ashok Singh not only claimed he was driving the vehicle but also said that a tyre burst causing him to run over the workers sleeping outside the Bandra bakery.
"I felt bad that the accident happened when I was driving the vehicle and Salman Khan had to face the consequences," he told the court. Singh claimed he had spent 13 years wracked with guilt.
The court that convicted the actor and sentenced him to five years in jail rejected this statement. But now that the High Court has acquitted Salman, does it mean that Ashok Singh deserves to be prosecuted?
Why wasn't the prime witness supported or protected better?
Ravindra Patil before he died. Source: Screengrab
Ravindra Patil was the police bodyguard who was in the car on the night of the accident. He was the man who got Salman Khan away safely from the accident site. He was the prime witness in the case as he was sitting next to an allegedly drunk Salman as he drove. He gave the statement which resulted in the FIR being filed against the actor.
But then his woes began. As this detailed piece notes , he was under pressure to retract his statement and when it was time for him to give his testimony to the court he vanished. He was dismissed from the police force, was arrested on a warrant and brought before the court. He stood by his statement.
Isolated, alone and jobless, Patil died in 2007 of tuberculosis he had contracted while living on the streets. During the trial in the lower court, Salman's lawyers argued that his statement couldn't be considered because he wasn't available for the trial. However, the court accepted his statement made earlier before the magistrate and convicted Salman. However, the high court while acquitting the actor said that the former police official had improved on his statement to the magistrate and therefore was unreliable.
Why wasn't Patil protected from pressure? Did the establishment do all it could to ensure that the former police constable had the support needed to remain a key witness in such a major case?
Why wasn't Kamaal Khan ever examined?
Khan in a music video. Source: YouTube screengrab
The singer-actor (best known for his song Oh Oh Jaane Jaana) was in the car on the night of September 28, 2002 when Salman Khan drove from the set off for his home in suburban Bandra.
H industan Times had accessed his statement to the police in which he said that he had seen the actor driving the car, and was there when he lost control of the vehicle . He also had said that people had been shouting for Salman to come out of the car and it was his bodyguard who ensured that the actor left the site unscathed.
But Kamaal Khan was never examined . He turned up in court but never was examined by the prosecution. He went to London but a summons was never issued to him to participate in the trial. It is unlikely he would have supported the case against Salman Khan, but it was one of the clauses the defence used to establish that the police had done a shoddy job of the investigation.
Incidentally, he is unlikely to be examined in the Supreme Court even if the Maharashtra government appeals against it.