Salman Khan acquitted of all charges in hit-and-run case

MUMBAI: A little over 13 years after Salman Khan’s late night drive home turned fatal for a labourer sleeping on a sidewalk in Bandra, the Bombay high court on Thursday acquitted the Bollywood actor of all criminal charges that he had been held guilty of by a trial court in May.

The prosecution had not established its case against the actor beyond a reasonable doubt as is required under criminal law, the Bombay high court concluded, as it narrated the many “unexplained and glaring anomalies” in the evidence.

Khan had filed an appeal in the HC against the May 6 conviction by a Mumbai sessions court for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and a five-year sentence given as punishment. The Bombay HC granted him bail on that same day and the actor, who’s out on bail, was called to court for the pronouncement. On Thursday, the actor who is shooting for the upcoming film Sultan appeared in court before Justice A R Joshi who concluded and pronounced the judgment on the appeal. Khan’s sister Alvira was in court too.

The case is one where a labourer died and four other people were injured when the actor’s four-wheeled Land Cruiser rammed into a Bandra laundry and bakery in the wee hours of September 28, 2002.

Justice Joshi said “this court has come to conclusion that the prosecution has failed to bring material on record to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant (Salman Khan) was driving and under the influence of alcohol, also, whether the accident occurred due to bursting (of tyre) prior to the incident or tyre burst after the incident.”

The judge also observed that Khan’s former — now deceased — police body guard, the first informant in the 2002 case against the actor, who was in the vehicle and was the crucial witness on whose testimony and “improved statement” about “Salman’s speeding” the prosecution had rested its case, was “not a wholly reliable witness.”

The judge said the testimony of the injured, who had, “after 12 years” said that he had seen the actor fall down twice before running away, to suggest drunkenness, has several “omissions” and examined and analysed them “in juxtaposition with other evidence such as the FIR and his police body guard Patil’s statement which did not mention alcohol.”

Patil had in his FIR only said Salman was speeding and had disobeyed his (Patil’s) request to slow down.


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