| Policemen escorting Salman to a Mumbai court in October last year. (AFP file picture)
Mumbai, Sept. 3: Salman Khan got a breather today as Bombay High Court said charges against him of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the hit-and-run case will be dropped.
The order provoked reaction from many corners. Deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal said the state will consider challenging the order after going through it.
Editor-activist Nikhil Wagle, who filed a petition in the hit-and-run case for the implementation of compensation to victims and has asked for an amendment of the Motor Vehicles Act, said he will put pressure on the government to challenge the order.
“This is a very serious offence. But this is between the state and Salman Khan. We will certainly do our bit to see the order is challenged and ask the government to move the Supreme Court,” said Wagle.
The high court quashed a sessions court order that had said the actor was to be tried for culpable homicide not amounting to murder (IPC Section 304 Part Two).
On hearing an appeal filed by the actor, Justice V.M. Kanade said the other charges against Salman will be retained. He will be tried for rash and negligent driving under Section 304 A of the IPC. He will also be tried under Sections 279 (rash driving), 337 (causing minor injuries), 338 (causing major injuries) and 427 (negligence).
Culpable homicide not amounting to murder attracts maximum 10 years punishment. Rash and negligent driving attracts maximum two years punishment.
The high court also said the actor would be tried by a magistrate and not by the sessions court since the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was dropped.
Hearing the plea of his lawyers, Dipesh Mehta and Ashok Mundargi, the court said Salman had no knowledge that driving in a rash and negligent manner could kill somebody.
The court said such knowledge is essential for the accused in order to be charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Public prosecutor Poornima Kantharia had contended Salman knew that rash and negligent driving might result in a death. He kept driving despite being warned repeatedly by his bodyguard, she said.
The prosecutor said the government had prima facie material for framing charges under IPC Section 304 Part Two against the actor and that he had filed the appeal to delay the trial.
Kantharia also said the actor had consumed liquor and did not have a driving licence.
Asked by reporters whether the state would challenge the order, the deputy chief minister said the government would consider this only after the law department went through the detailed document.