As a Mumbai court is set to pronounce verdict in the 2002 hit-and-run case involving the Bollywood superstar Salman Khan on May 6, the film industry is keeping its fingers crossed as an investment of about Rs 200 crore is riding on him.
"The film industry is hoping that nothing terrible happens. Either he is pronounced innocent or the least punishment is given," said the trade analyst Komal Nahata.
His two upcoming films, "Bajrangi Bhaijaan" which stars Kareena Kapoor and "Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo" opposite Sonam Kapoor, are currently in the last "schedule" of shooting.
The 49-year-old actor recently shot for "Bajrangi Bhaijaan" in Kashmir.
Amod Mehra, another trade analyst, said Salman had committed to do four others films, including "Dabbang 3" and "Entry Mein No Entry", but these were only at the stage of announcement.
In all, an investment of Rs 200 crore is riding on Salman, who has delivered a string of box office successes in the last few years, according to Nahata.
The actor is accused of ramming his car, while drunk, into a roadside bakery in suburban Bandra in the early hours of September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four others.
The maximum sentence he can get is a ten years' jail term, on the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
After Sanjay Dutt, Salman is the second big star from Mumbai film industry to get embroiled in a high-profile criminal case in recent years. He is also facing trial in a Rajasthan court for hunting a black buck during the shooting of "Hum Saath Saath Hain".
Meanwhile, actor Jacky Bhagnani said, "I am personally very very close to Salman Khan... But it's a court decision... I can't talk about it too much... I hope justice prevails."
Veteran actor Anupam Kher said, "Salman is a wonderful person... I pray to the god he is happy after the verdict... He is a very good human being... I hope everything is sorted out."
Actress Soha Ali Khan said she was praying that God give Salman and his family strength. He is very close to my family...and has always been very helpful," she said.
Salman Khan accident case: Timeline since September 28, 2002
September 28, 2002: Shortly after 2 a.m., Bollywood actor Salman Khan's Toyota Land Cruiser rams into a roadside bakery in Bandra West, close to his seafront home in Galaxy Apartments. Four people sleeping outside the bakery are injured; one dies later.
Later that afternoon, Khan is arrested by the olice and enlarged on bail by a metropolitan magistrate's court.
October 21: Salman charged under Section 304 II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
October 24: Salman re-arrested; secures bail from a sessions court.
March: Salman challenges the application of Section 304 II of the IPC.
May: Court rejects Khan's application and asks the magistrate's court to frame charges under the section 304 II of the IPC.
June: Salman appeals in the Bombay High Court, which holds that the section is not applicable in the case.
October: The state challenges the high court order in the Supreme Court.
December: Supreme Court rules that the magistrate should, after perusing the evidence, decide whether to invoke the section 304 II.
October 2006: The Bandra metropolitan magistrate's Court frames charges against the actor under section 304 I (rash and negligent driving) and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.
May 22, 2007: A chemical analysis report suggests that Salman Khan was drunk at the time of the accident.
March 2011: The prosecution seeks enhanced charges against Salman.
December 2012: The Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate Court rules that a case has been made out under Sec. 304 II and commits the trial to the Mumbai Sessions Court.
March 2013: Salman files a revision application with the Sessions Court, challenging the lower court order.
June 24: The sessions court rejects Salman's application, paving the way for applying the stringent section.
July 23: The Mumbai Sessions court frames charges against Salman invoking the enhanced charge of 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder.'
December: The Mumbai Sessions Court orders a fresh trial against the actor and with recording of fresh evidence from all witnesses who had also deposed before the Metropolitan Magistrate court.
April 2014: First witness Samba Gowda deposes in the re-trial, and it continues before the Sessions Court with regular hearings.
March 25, 2015: Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat closed his case against Salman after examining 27 witnesses during the re-trial.
April 20: Defence counsel Shrikant Shivade forcefully argues against prosecution charges and closes its arguments.
April 20: Mumbai Additional Sessions Judge D.W. Deshpande sets date for verdict.
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