Bollywood superstar Salman Khan will face a fresh trial in the 2002 hit-and-run case after a sessions court in Mumbai dismissed his petition last week. The petition challenged a metropolitan court order invoking the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, section 304, part II of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The sessions court took into consideration the magistrate court’s reasoning and observed, “Having considered the totality of evidence of all the witnesses, the magistrate dogmatically formed an opinion. He also came to the conclusion that he (Khan) deemed to have knowledge that he must not drive the vehicle in a drunken condition and at a high speed.”
On January 31 this year, Magistrate V S Patil had observed that though Khan didn’t have any intention to cause death, he had the knowledge that his act was likely to cause it. “Any person of common prudence would be deemed to have knowledge that he must not drive in a drunk condition and at such a high speed, and in the manner in which the accused was driving the vehicle, he not only offended the law but even social duty,” the magistrate had said.
Recently, actor Sanjay Dutt went to jail for three years to serve his sentence for firearms offenses linked to 1993 blasts which killed 257 people in Mumbai. If Khan is tried and gets convicted under this section then he could face ten years in jail. The trial begins on 19 July.
In the early hours of September 28, 2002, one person was killed and four were injured when a Land Cruiser allegedly driven by Khan ploughed through a group of people sleeping on the pavement outside a bakery in suburban Bandra (Mumbai). Khan surrendered eight hours after the incident.
The actor was booked under Indian Penal Code’s sections 279 (rash driving), 337 (causing minor injuries), 338 (causing major injuries) and 427 (negligence). A case against Khan was filed according to the statement given by his police bodyguard, Ravindra Patil, who first claimed that Khan had driven rashly. Patil later amended his statement to say that Khan was under the influence of alcohol. The police built their case around this statement.
The Bombay high court, while hearing a PIL on October 7, 2002, had directed Khan to pay Rs 19 lakh as compensation to the victims within two weeks. This included Rs 10 lakh to the family of Nurullah Sharif, who died in the accident. However, his widow Farida Begum and son Feroz have been awaiting the promised sum for more than a decade. While the other victims have got their compensation, Nurullah’s family was unable to receive it due to lack of any identification proof.
The 2002 incident in Mumbai is not Khan’s first brush with the law. He was arrested in the western state of Rajasthan for illegally hunting and killing a protected black buck deer in 1998. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison in 2006, but spent less than a week inside before being released on bail. His appeal is pending in court.
Salman Khan has further started his own blog based on his case www.salmankhanfiles.com