In a major relief to Bollywood actor Salman Khan, the Bombay High Court on Friday (May 8) morning suspended the five-year sentence handed to him by a sessions court earlier this week. Khan had been convicted on Wednesday on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the 2002 hit-and-run case in which one man had died and four were injured when Khan’s white Toyota Land Cruiser ran over men sleeping on a pavement in suburban Bandra.
Admitting Salman Khan’s appeal against the conviction, the Bombay High Court also expedited its hearing.
The High Court also directed Salman Khan to surrender before the trial court forthwith and execute a bail bond of Rs 30,000 with one or two sureties of a like amount.
The HC observed that his passport is already with the investigating agency and that he would need to seek the court’s permission every time he wanted to fly out of the country.
“It is nobody’s case that the applicant is likely to abscond during the pendency of the appeal,” said Justice AM Thipsay.
The main question before the HC was over the inclusion of Section 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code. The court said the dispute over the inclusion of this section needed further examination and consideration.
Senior counsel Amit Desai arguing for Khan said the actor was neither at the wheel nor in a drunken state that night. Citing the case of Alister Pereir a who was convicted for a similar offence, Desai said a bottle of
alcohol had been found in Pereira’s car. In this case there was no such evidence, said Desai. “We can’t say that people drink and drive on the streets of Mumbai,” Desai said.
The defence counsel also said Salman Khan had never violated any bail conditions during the trial.
Public prosecutor Sandeep Shinde opposed the suspension of the sentence stating that there was enough evidence to show that he was at the wheel when the incident occurred.