Less than 48 hours after he was convicted in 2002 hit and run case, Bollywood actor Salman Khan got a massive relief from Bombay High Court. The High Court has suspended five years sentence awarded to the actor after the trial court found him guilty of running over five people, and killing one among them. Salman Khan had moved Bombay High Court appealing against the judgement of the Sessions judge convicting him and subsequently sentencing for five years in jail.
The High Court has however, imposed a condition that the actor will have to seek court’s permission before travelling abroad, while suspending 5 years jail punishment pending the hearing of his appeal.
Bollywood stars, his fans and his vast followers on social network reacted with relief and joy as soon as the news about High Court’s order broke. While the proceedings took place inside the packed courtroom, the day outside high court was full of drama too as one of his fans attempted suicide. The man who described himself as Khan’s biggest fan reportedly consumed a liquid outside the court complex and was swiftly taken to JJ Hospital by the local police.
There were protests against the actor too, with the some people raising demands for a stringent punishment.
On Wednesday, the trial court had convicted and sentenced Salman Khan with Additional Sessions Judge DW Deshpande noting “You were driving the car”.
The actor was charged with under multiple charges, the most serious of them being 304 (part 2) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Earlier during the trial, prosecution and defence had concluded their arguments on 21st April this year after which the verdict was reserved by the Sessions Judge. Further the graver charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder were added after the magistrate had ordered re-trial and the case was referred to the Sessions Court.
In a case, which saw a long pendency and various twists and turns, the prosecution argued of strong evidence against the actor that he was in a drunken state and over-speeding when he lost control of the car and ran over those people sleeping on the pavement outside a bakery in Bandra locality of Mumbai on 28th February 2002. The prosecution had also claimed that Salman Khan along with his cousin Kamaal Khan, who was with him, had fled the scene after ramming his SUV.
Defending himself, Salman Khan had refuted with prosecution charges claiming that he has been slapped with a false case and he was not driving the car.
“I was not drunk… I was not driving, driver Ashok Singh was at the wheel… I was at the spot for 15 minutes after the accident,” he had recorded his statement before the court.
Salman’s driver Ashok Singh is the only defense witness produced during the trial by his lawyers. The driver too had corroborated with his employer’s claims. “I was driving when the accident took place… the tyre burst and brake jammed. I narrated the incident to police but was made to wait at the police station. I suspected foul play and informed Salman about it.”
But the court disagreed with the defense version as it pronounced that the actor himself was driving the car when the accident happened.