The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Salman back home with warning

Mumbai, Oct. 24: A Mumbai sessions court today granted bail to Salman Khan in the hit-and-run case.

Judge P.V. Bavkar released Salman on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 with a surety of the same amount.

The judge asked the actor to deposit his passport with police. He can go abroad for shootings, but has to submit his detailed schedule of the trip.

Bavkar also warned him against contacting witnesses, including those hurt in the mishap.

As the judge pronounced the order, family members and friends of Salman — father Salim Khan, mother Salma, stepmother Helen, brother Arbaaz and friends Puneet Issar and Bunty Walia — looked greatly relieved and clapped and hugged each other.

They did not speak to reporters, but left immediately for Thane jail where Salman — who did not appear in court today — is lodged.

Salman returned home after being released from the jail at 8.15 pm.

Salman, whose car ran over pavement dwellers near a laundry in Bandra on September 28, killing one person and injuring four, has been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The actor was granted bail today on his fifth application — he was denied bail three times by a magistrate and the fourth time by judge Bavkar — after public prosecutor R.V. Kini today told the court that since the chargesheet had been filed and the investigations were over, it was up to the court to decide on the matter. He said that earlier the police were apprehensive about Salman tampering with evidence, but now that the chargesheet was filed, it would be up to the court to grant the bail.

Salman’s lawyer, Harshad Ponda, too, argued that after the chargesheet and the conclusion of the investigation, there was no reason to refuse the bail.

Asked by the judge whether there was any complaint of Salman influencing witnesses, Kini said “no”.

Asked by the court, Salman’s lawyer said the actor has deposited Rs 19 lakh as compensation with Bombay High Court in keeping with a judicial directive. Hearing a public interest litigation, the high court had ordered him to pay the amount, Ponda said.

The court rejected the plea of the Citizens’ Organisation for Public Opinion to refuse Salman bail. The judge observed that the organisation had no locus standi in the matter.

The organisation’s lawyer, Subhash Jha, had petitioned that bail should not be granted to Salman and his trial should be expedited. He alleged that the chargesheet was filed hurriedly and such a document could not be called as chargesheet.

But Kini and Ponda objected to the plea and the allegations about the chargesheet.

In his bail application, Salman pleaded that he has been a popular hero of Hindi films for 14 years and is deeply committed to society. Salman said he was one of the breadwinners of his family and his presence in Mumbai was essential.

The actor was arrested on September 28 on the charge of causing death by negligence (Section 304 of IPC), a bailable offence. He was released on bail on the same day by the police.

But after public outrage and a PIL being filed in the high court, the court, on October 7, ordered Salman to pay interim compensation of Rs 19 lakh to victims.

A police probe was also ordered into the alleged laxity of the police and the state government said the actor could be charged with a more serious and non-bailable offence, culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Soon after the government made the statement on October 7, Salman turned himself in at the Bandra police station. He was arrested and put behind bars and since then, has been remanded from time to time and was recently placed in judicial custody.

The police filed a chargesheet against him on October 21. The actor has been charged with 10 offences under the IPC, Motor Vehicles Act and the Prohibition Act, punishable with jail terms up to 10 years.

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