MUMBAI (TIP): Salman Khan-the popular Bollywood actor has been acquitted of all charges against him in the 13-year-old hit-and-run case, Bombay High Court ruled on Thursday, December 10. The actor was accused of drunk driving and losing control of his SUV, that left one person dead and four others injured, after a night of drinking at an upscale bar in Mumbai in 2002 and fleeing the scene.
“The appeal filed by Salman Salim Khan is allowed. He is acquitted of all charges against him. His conviction and sentence stand quashed,” said Justice A R Joshi. Khan was reportedly moved to tears in the packed courtroom.
The court said the actor cannot be convicted on the basis of evidence submitted by the prosecution.
Justice AR Joshi citied many reasons in the shoddy investigation and prosecution that went in favor of Salman Khan. The judge noted that the prosecution had failed to prove that the incident didn’t happen due to the bursting of tire. The testimony of late police constable Ravindra Patil, who was assigned to guard Salman Khan on the night of the fateful accident, was also termed unreliable by the Judge.
Earlier in May, with eight charges against him, including culpable homicide, a non-bailable offence, a Mumbai Sessions Court had found him guilty and had sentenced him to five years in prison. But two days later, the Bombay High Court suspended the actor’s jail sentence. Khan’s lawyers had argued that the lower court had not considered all the evidence at hand during the trial. Khan was then granted bail.
Every year, more than 130,000 people are killed on India’s deadly roads and over 20,000 cases relate to drivers causing accidents under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In India, there has been a mixed reaction to Salman Khan’s acquittal. Majority, however, found fault with the judgment. The verdict handed down by Justice A.R. Joshi is likely to be a subject of serious discussion in the media.
It is too early to know what Indian Americans think of the actor’s acquittal. However, going by the judicial standards here, many will fault the judgment.