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I was neither drunk nor driving, says Salman

I was neither drunk nor driving, says Salman
Mumbai:Actor Salman Khan, who deposed before the court in Mumbai in the 2002 hit-and-run case trial, denied that he was drunk on the intervening night of September 27-28 in 2002, and that he was driving the car at the time of the accident.

“The accident was not caused by me, sir,” Mr. Khan told Judge D.W. Deshpande.

He also said that the RTO had submitted a false report to the police that no licence was issued to him in the year 2002.

The prosecution's case is that the actor was drunk at the time of the accident, and that he overran the footpath dwellers after he lost control of the car he was driving. One person was killed and four were injured in the accident.

Constable Ravindra Patil, who was Mr. Khan's body guard, was present with him at the time of the accident. He is the complainant in the case. He had said in his statement to the police that the actor was in an inebriated condition, and that he had warned Mr. Khan against driving in such a condition.

He had said that Mr. Khan did not pay heed to his instructions, and drove at a high speed of 90 to 100 kmph. The actor lost control of his vehicle and ran over the people sleeping on the footpath, Patil had said in his complaint. An FIR was thereafter registered against the actor.

On Friday, Mr. Khan denied that he was under the influence of alcohol on the night of the accident. When asked by the judge about a witness statement which said that the actor's pupils were slightly dilated when he was taken for blood examination at J.J. Hospital, the actor said it was because of stress.

“I was awake through the night at that time. And I was stressed about this (accident),” he said.

He also denied that Constable Patil, the constable who succumbed to tuberculosis in 2007, was an eyewitness to the accident.

“He was sleeping at the time of the accident,” Mr. Khan told the judge in the sessions court.

He also said that it was his driver Ashok Singh who was driving the car at the time of the accident. “After the accident, my side of the door was jammed. So I jumped on the driver's side to come out of the car,” he told the court.

He also denied running away from the scene. “I was told that it would be easier to help the victims in my absence,” he said.

Mr. Khan denied eyewitness accounts which said that irate people had held him after he came out of the car. He also denied eyewitness accounts that agitated bakery workers were shouting "Salman, come out of the car" after the accident.

"It is false that the bakery people caught me," he said.

Mr. Khan refuted the prosecution's claim that he was not traceable after the accident, and that he was apprehended by a police team after a tip-off. “I went straight to Bandra police station,” he said, while talking about the details of his arrest.

Earlier in the day, the actor moved an application seeking restraint on real-time reporting by the media about the actor's deposition. Mr. Khan’s lawyer Shrikant Shivade said that the media should be allowed to report on the matter only after conclusion of the actor’s statement.

The court thereafter passed an order to that effect. It also barred the media from doing any speculative reporting about the merits and demerits of the defence. “Till the conclusion of the trial, the media cannot discuss any merits and demerits. No opinions should be aired. Only factual reporting which depicts the entire and true picture, should be done,” the judge said.

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