MUMBAI: Admitting Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s appeal against his five-year prison sentence today, Bombay High Court judge Abhay Thipsay said, “It is not a case where the applicant is likely to abscond and both parties have no objection to hearing an appeal in a fast manner, so the sentence is suspended until an appeal is disposed.”
Today’s order means that Salman Khan will not go to jail for now in a 2002 hit-and-run case.
“We cannot take pleasure in seeing someone inside (jail) while his rights are being decided,” the judge observed.
Salman Khan has appealed in the High Court against Wednesday’s order by a lower court, which convicted him of culpable homicide and other charges like driving while under the influence of alcohol and without a licence.
The sessions court held that he drove his SUV into a group of homeless men sleeping on the pavement in Mumbai’s Bandra (West), killing one and injuring four in September 2002, and sentenced him to five years in jail.
Justice Thipsay today said Mr Khan’s appeal would be heard in July, and set new bail terms for the film star. He told a packed courtroom that Mr Khan must post bail of Rs. 30,000 and will need to surrender his passport.
“The defence has raised pertinent points about the evidence presented by the prosecution which need consideration,” the judge said. “Also, the points based on which the culpable homicide conviction was passed needs examination,” the judge said.
Mr Khan’s lawyers argued that their client’s conviction should be overturned. “The prosecution has not established beyond doubt that it was my client who was driving that night,” lawyer Amit Desai said.
The sessions court judge DW Deshpande has in a 240-page judgement said, “I find that it is established beyond reasonable doubt by prosecution that accused was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident,” rejecting the actor’s submission that his driver Ashok Singh was driving.