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Salman Khan convicted but judgement is partially correct

Thirteen years ago, Nurullah Mehboob Sharif was killed and four others were injured after Salman Khan’s Toyota Land Cruiser ran up the stairs of American Express Laundry on Hill Road at Bandra in the superseding night of September 27 and 28, 2002. Salman was arrested and freed the same day after a medical check-up. He was rearrested in October 2002, but got bail from the Sessions Court. The trial began in October 2006 at the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court at Bandra. In 2012, the magistrate ruled in favour of an enhanced charge under Section 304 II of the IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and transferred the case to the Sessions Court for a fresh trial. In 2013, the Sessions Court framed charges under the stringent Section. Earlier, Salman had faced the charge of causing death by negligence under Section 304-A of the IPC. He is also facing the charges of rash driving under Section 279 and abetment of assault under Section 134 of the IPC, besides those under the Motor Vehicle Act. If convicted, he may face up to 10 years in jail. Yesterday’s verdict was like a big melodrama, his friends and fans were in grief. They all were praying for his release.

Finally, he got convicted. As the judge delivered his verdict, WhatsApp messages, posts on social media flooded congratulating judiciary of this country. And the same people who hailed judiciary some time ago became critics of them for granting two days interim bail to Salman Khan. Salman came to court clad in a white shirt and light blue denims. On hearing the verdict, he seemed to put up a stoic composure, but bowed down his head and shuffled his feet. His sisters Alvira Khan Agnihotri, who has been a regular at the hearings, and Arpita Khan cried when the judgement was pronounced. They stood by their brother’s side after the verdict along with brother Arbaz Khan. Finally, the end is well so all is well with his fans and family for now. No doubt, he has done lots of good work and also paid compensation to victim’s family, but if compensation can cure crimes, all of us would open our own bank cash counters.

He is also facing trial in a Rajasthan court for hunting a black buck during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain. Constable Ravindra Patil, Salman’s bodyguard was present with him at the time of the accident. He has also been found guilty of endangering the life and personal safety of others, drunk driving, not informing the police and leaving the spot after the accident. He is also accused of failing to report an accident involving his vehicle. The charges carry punishment ranging from six months to up to 10 years in jail. Salman Khan had told the court that his driver Ashok Singh was driving the car at the time of the accident. But the court said, “You were driving the car.” The prosecution presented 27 witnesses including the actor’s bodyguard, the bar staff, policemen and a parking attendant. Salman Khan’s driver Ashok Singh was the lone defence witness, and he corroborated the actor’s version and owned responsibility for the accident. One of the prosecution witnesses was Sachin Kadam, a security guard, who was declared hostile after he went back on his statement that he had seen the actor at the accident spot. In a surprise move this March, the actor’s driver appeared before the court for the first time and took responsibility for the accident saying he was at the wheel. In his deposition in March, Mr. Khan said he was neither drunk nor was he driving the vehicle. He also denied having run away from the scene. The defence lawyer contended that the evidence against the actor was manufactured. Salman was “branded as an accused from day one” and it was “a pure case of accident”.

“I was awake through the night at that time. And I was stressed about this (accident),” he said when asked about his dilated pupils. Denying running away from the scene, he told the court, “I was told that it would be easier to help the victims in my absence. It is false that the bakery people caught me.”

We all appreciate judiciary for making us eternally optimistic, law abiding proud poor citizens of this country. Many requested that Salman should be given bail so that he should not spend a single night behind bars and his human rights should not be violated. On the other hand, somehow, the Indian culture doesn’t teach us to own our shortcomings/sins but to deny (and probably, live in self-denial mode forever). This judgement is partially correct. Judge should have taken into consideration about the compensation that the Salman’s family was ready to pay. Even after so many years, I don’t think that it was taken in full-fledged manner.

Salman’s woes will not end here. He is an accused of poaching two Blackbucks in 1998 near Jodhpur during the shooting of ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’. He was sentenced to one year imprisonment. Salman always remained in controversy for some or the other reason; however with age he is thinking well now. Let’s see, what is written in his fate after two days of bail.

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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