MUMBAI: A sessions court on Wednesday sentenced Bollywood superstar Salman Khan to 5 years in jail after finding him guilty of all 8 charges in a 2002 case where his car rammed into a bakery killing one and injuring four persons while he was driving under the influence of alcohol.
The court had earlier found him guilty under the stringent charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and several other charges including rash driving, causing minor injuries; causing major injuries; negligence and driving without a licence.
The sentence in the 12-year-old case was delivered in a jam packed court room number 58 of Judge D W Deshpande where the 49-year-old actor and his family were present.
The sentencing follows the culmination of a trial that commenced in April last year.
The court relied upon judgements in Alistair Pereira and Sanjeev Nanda BMW case of Delhi while convicting Salman.
The court also asked the actor what he had to say on the verdict to which he denied charges saying he was not driving the car at the time of mishap.
Khan was earlier being tried in the magistrate court under the lesser charge of rash and negligent driving before the case was transferred to the sessions court. The graver section was added after key prosecution witness, Khan’s bodyguard, cop Ravindra Patil, who was present in the car, told the police that the actor had been driving drunk. Patil died in 2007, but his examination before the magistrate court was included in the present trial. During the final arguments, defence advocate Srikant Shivde, however, opposed this inclusion and said his statement before the court was taken when Khan was being tried for the lesser charge of rash and negligent driving.
While special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat had examined 27 witnesses with one turning hostile, Shivde presented one defence witness Ashok Singh, who gave an altogether new twist to the case. Singh, Khan’s driver, told the court in March that it was him and not the actor behind the wheel on the intervening night of September 28, 2002.
Singh’s revelation came just after Khan took a similar stand during his statement before the court. Khan also told the court that he had only been drinking water during his visit to Rain Bar and J W Marriot, hours before the incident.
Another key prosecution witness was Dattaray Bhalshankar, the chemical analyst who told the court that Khan’s blood sample taken hours after the incident, tested positive for 62 mg of alcohol. This he said was over double the permissible limit. In his cross examination, however, the witness could not recollect how he conducted the method to analyze the sample. The defence also claimed that he was not an expert and had not taken proper precautions.
Tight security arrangements were in place around the court. Salman was accompanied by his brothers Arbaaz, Sohail and sister Arpita Khan.
One person was killed and four others were injured on the night of September 28, 2002 in suburban Bandra when Salman’s Toyota Land Cruiser rammed into a Bakery. The victims were sleeping on the pavement when the SUV ran over them.
Nurullah Mehboob Sharif was killed in the accident in which Kalim Mohammed Pathan, Munna Malai Khan, Abdullah Rauf Shaikh and Muslim Shaikh had been injured.