A sessions court on Tuesday deferred the 2002 hit-and-run case involving actor Salman Khan to January 21 after prosecution sought time to file an appeal in the Bombay high court against its order for a fresh trial.
Prosecutor J V Kendralkar informed the court that the prosecution had written a letter to law and judiciary ministry of the Maharashtra government seeking permission to file an appeal.
As the ministry's response was still awaited, the state sought time. However, Salman's lawyer Srikant Shivade urged for commencement of a fresh trial and pleaded the court to give a short date to the state for adjournment of the case.
Judge D W Deshpande then adjourned the case to January 21 and asked the prosecution to seek instructions from the state on filing the appeal in the high court.
The court, on December 5, had ordered a fresh trial on the ground that witnesses had not been examined in the context of aggravated charge of culpable homicide which was invoked against the actor midway through the proceedings.
The judge had held that the trial would be held de novo (fresh) as the actor had not been given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses vis-a-vis the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder which attracts a 10-year sentence. The court had also fast-tracked the case.
The actor had earlier been tried by a magistrate for a lesser offence of causing death by negligence which entailed imprisonment of two years.
As the trial would be held afresh, the evidence adduced before a magistrate earlier would be discarded and all the witnesses who had appeared before would be examined and cross-examined afresh.
The case, dragging on for over a decade, had taken a twist earlier this year when the magistrate, after examining 17 witnesses, held that the charge of culpable homicide was made out against Salman and referred the matter to a sessions court, as cases under this offence are triable by a higher court.
Image: Salman Khan
Photograph: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com