Bombay High Court suspends Salman Khan’s five-year sentence

NEW DELHI: A large number of filmmakers in Mumbai heaved a sigh of relief when the Bombay High Court stayed the five-year sentence imposed on actor Salman Khan by a Sessions court two days earlier for killing a homeless man in a 2002 hit-and-run case.


The 49-year old actor was however asked by the High Court to re-apply for fresh bail before the Sessions Court.


Khan had managed to get a two-day reprieve on 6 May itself on the ground that the judgment had not been made available to him.   


High Court judge A M Thipsay suspended Khan's sentence after an initial hearing on his appeal at which the superstar's lawyers argued that the trial court had not considered all the evidence on hand during the trial.


Had he gone to jail, Bollywood sources said around six films would have been affected as they are already in the pipeline and have an investment of more than Rs 200 crore. 


The dead man, 38-year-old Noor Ullah Khan, was among five people who were run over in the incident. Late on the night of 28 September, 2002, Khan's Toyota Land Cruiser hit the American Express bakery in the Bandra area of Mumbai.


Khan was arrested on 28 September, 2002, and released the same day. He was charged under Section 304 (2) with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, a charge that was struck down by the Bombay High Court in 2003. This Bombay High Court order was set aside by the Supreme Court in 2003, paving the way for the case to being re-examined.


Khan had sought to say his driver was behind the wheel, but Sessions Judge DW Deshpande said the actor was driving the car and was under the influence of alcohol at the time. 


One of Bollywood's busiest stars having appeared in more than 80 Hindi-language films, Khan’s jail sentence is bound to affect the film projects he was working in.


Known for turning out at least one hit every year, Khan’s films like Dabangg, Ready, Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger, Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun have been huge commercial hits.


The prosecution alleged that Khan had been driving the car while drunk, both of which charges the actor denied in court in March. But many witnesses disagreed.


A constable attached to Khan's security detail had said in a statement to the police that the "drunk" actor had lost control of the car. The policeman died in 2007 of tuberculosis.

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