Defence tried to unsuccessfully convince the judge that earlier hit-and-run cases had attracted lighter sentences, and that the actor’s philanthropic activities should be a mitigating factor
Mumbai sessions court Judge D W Deshpande on Wednesday found Bollywood superstar Salman Khan guilty in the 2002 hit-and-run case. The Judge sentenced Salman to five years of rigorous imprisonment.
He was convicted under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) for five years and fine of Rs 25,000; 338 (causing grievous hurt by an act endangering life or personal safety of others) for a year with fine of Rs 500; 337 (causing hurt by an act endangering life or personal safety of others) for three months with fine of Rs 500 of the IPC, along with relevant provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and the Bombay Prohibition Act.
The Judge told Salman that the court had concluded that Salman was driving the car, and not his driver. He told the actor that the court had upheld all the charges against him. During the trial, the prosecution examined a total of 27 witnesses while the defence examined only one witness, Salman’s driver Ashok Singh, who declared that he had been driving the car when the accident occurred.
The sessions court conducted a fresh trial of the case after it was transferred out of the metropolitan magistrate’s court, which had been conducting a trial for the lesser charge of rash and negligent driving, which attracts a two-year jail term.
The Final Arguments
On Wednesday, during the arguments over the quantum of the sentence, defence counsel Shrikant Shivade said, “Salman’s case was on a better footing than the Alistair Pereira and Sanjeev Nanda BMW cases.
In the Alistair case, seven people were killed and a bottle of liquor was found in the car.” The lawyer argued that the accused in these cases were handed out lighter sentences (ranging from 2-3 years). Shivade said that Salman had already given Rs 19 lakh as compensation to the injured.
Instead of a higher sentence, the actor was ready to pay more compensation, the counsel said. He also tried to prove that Salman was suffering from a neurological ailment, but the actor gestured and told him not to pursue the issue.
Further, the actor’s lawyer declared that Salman was the founder of a trust called ‘Being Human’, and this entity had distributed Rs 42 crore over the past few years for treating children with heart ailments. Public Prosecutor Pradip Gharat pleaded for the maximum sentence, saying, “The Supreme Court has powers to increase or decrease the sentence.
But as a deterrent, an exemplary sentence is necessary to show that he won’t be spared just because he is an actor. In front of the law everyone is same and should be punished if a crime is committed,” he said.