Bollywood actor Salman Khan is guilty of running over five men who were sleeping on the footpath outside the American Express Bakery in Bandra, Mumbai with his Toyota Land Cruiser 13 years ago, the incident took place a little after 2 AM on 28th September 2002. One person named Noor Ullah Khan died, while the other four were injured, three of them seriously.
Today the 49-year old star has been pronounced guilty by Judge DW Deshpande of the Bombay City Civil and Sessions Court. This judgement finally brings an end to the 13-year old case. He will be taken into custody immediately and sent to Arthur road jail. Not only Salman Khan, but all his family members, who accompanied him to court broke down after the conviction. Sisters Alvira, Arpita and brother Arbaaz Khan and Congress leader Baba Siddiqui were in tears in the courtroom.
Salman Khan charged under Section 304 part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) which attracts up to 10 years in prison; Section 279 (rash and negligent driving) which stipulates six months jail; Sections 337 & 338 (causing hurt by act endangering life and causing grievous hurt) with punishment up to two years; Section 427 (mischief causing damage to property) with maximum punishment of up to 2 years.
Under Motor Vehicle Act, Salman Khan is charged with Sections 34 (a), (b) read with 181 (driving vehicle in contravention of rules) and 185 (driving at great speed after consuming alcohol with punishment of cancellation of driving license). Furthermore, the star is also charged under sections of Bombay Prohibition Act relating to driving under influence of alcohol with maximum six months’ jail.
Last-week on March 27, 2015, Salman Khan has denied all the charges that he had been slapped with, claiming he was neither driving and nor had he been drinking. Today morning, the judge rebutted the denials and said, “You were driving the car” and held him guilty of all seven charges against him in the case. The prosecution alleged that the driver had taken money to give a false testimony. Now Salman’s driver Ashok Singh too faces perjury charges for misleading court and investigation.
This will be a huge setback to the Salman Khan, who is part of 2 major films currently under production – Kabir Khan’s action thriller Bajrangi Bhaijaan, scheduled to open in mid-July on Eid, and Sooraj Barjatya’s family entertainer Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, slated for a November 11 release. At least 5 more movies could be pushed into the back-burner, and it is being said that Salman has investments of over INR 200 Crore riding on him. He also endorses 10 brands including Suzuki Motorcycle India.
Today’s verdict brings about a temporary closure to one of the most longest, and certainly the most popular hit-and-run cases in the country, after 13 long years. However, legal experts say the actor is bound to appeal against the verdict and the case is likely to go on for many more years.
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