Bollywood super star Salman Khan may face fresh trouble with the Maharashtra Government today informing the Bombay High Court of its decision to challenge in the Supreme Court the verdict acquitting him of all charges in the 2002 hit-and-run case.
The Government told the High Court that a Special Leave Petition (SLP) will be moved in the apex court against the December 10 verdict of Justice A R Joshi, who overturned the sessions court judgement that held Salman guilty and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment.
Government Pleader Abhinandan Vagyani informed a bench that the Law and Judiciary department had accorded sanction to file a SLP in the Supreme Court challenging the High Court verdict which had acquitted Salman, ruling that shoddy investigations were conducted by police in the case.
The SLP would be filed in due course, the pleader said during a hearing of a public interest litigation filed by journalist Nikhil Wagle, seeking compensation from Salman for the victims of the 2002 hit-and-run case.
Though the actor had deposited compensation almost a decade ago for the families of victims as directed by the HC, Wagle’s petition is still being heard as the court expanded its scope to include the issues of enhancement of punishment in drink driving cases and forensic procedures adopted by the authorities to determine consumption of alcohol by accused.
On May 6, a sessions court had sentenced the actor to five years jail after it held him guilty of offences including culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Aggrieved, he filed an appeal in HC which acquitted him.
According to the prosecution, on September 28, 2002, Salman had rammed his car into a bakery in suburban Bandra, killing one person and injuring four others who were sleeping outside.
The case had generated a great deal of public interest in drink driving cases.
The PIL filed by Nikhil Wagle also raised issues about enhancing the punishment prescribed in law in such cases resulting in Union Government informing the HC last week that it was mulling to amend laws to increase punishment so that it can serve as deterrent.
Meanwhile, some social activists and legal experts welcomed the Government decision to move the Supreme Court to challenge the HC verdict.
Former DGP D Sivanandan termed this decision as “one in tandem with the public perception.” He said there were many samaritans who wanted justice for the person who died in the mishap and also for late Ravindra Patil, police constable and bodyguard of Salman who had implicated the actor in the case.
Lawyer and human Rights Activist Abha Singh, who raised several questions during the trial on behalf of an intervenor in the case, said “this decision of the state to appeal in Supreme Court will certainly clear the conflicting issues and ensure that justice is done in this case.