MUMBAI: Following the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s decision that Bollywood star Salman Khan would be tried under Section 304 part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) in the 2002 hit and run case, the reasons for the order have been revealed.
Thursday, a copy of this order was made available. Earlier, the superstar was charged only under IPC Section 304A (rash and negligent driving). In his order on 31 January,
Justice V.S. Patil said that “knowledge”, a crucial aspect to prove culpable homicide, was there in the case, and hence modified the charges to include Section 304 part II.
The Court observed that Salman Khan was under the influence of liquor, according to reports of pathological tests. “It is the matter of common knowledge or phenomenon of life in Mumbai that persons live on footpaths. Besides this, the accused was also aware of the fact that people were sleeping on the footpath where the incident occurred because he resides in same vicinity,” noted Justice Patil.
The Court also observed that Salman Khan was allegedly warned by his police bodyguard Ravindra Patil to not drive at a speed of 90 to 100 km per hour, since there was a turn approaching ahead, but the actor did not follow his advice.
Salman’s lawyer Dipesh Mehta said that the actor would challenge the order of the Magistrate in the Bombay High Court. “The alleged incident had taken place at mid-night, when it was extremely dark and many people had gathered at the scene of the accident. Therefore, prima-facie it is amply clear that there was absence of any motive or intention to kill someone. The act as alleged is not an act of culpable homicide, but an unfortunate incident, beyond control of accused, such as an act of God,” said Mehta.
On the night of September 28, 2002, Salman had allegedly rammed his Toyota Land Cruiser into a roadside bakery at suburban Mumbai, killing one person and injuring four others, sleeping on the pavement.
The Magistrate’s Court disagreed with the actor’s argument that he had no knowledge that an accident would ensue. Rejecting the contention that the accident was not intentional but an act of God, Justice Patil reiterated that the actor had knowledge that he would meet with accident pursuant to the warning by his police bodyguard.
Under Section 304 part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), punishment can be imprisonment up to 10 years.