Salman Khan’s conviction stayed, enlarged on bail


In a huge relief to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, the Bombay High Court on Friday suspended his 5-year sentence in the 2002 hit-and-run case and granted him bail pending his appeal against conviction.

“He has been on bail for a long time and his liberty was not curtailed. Normally, in such cases, the appeal is admitted and an accused is granted bail,” Justice Abhay Thipsay said, while staying his conviction and granting him bail.

The judge directed him to surrender before the trial court and furnish a fresh bail bond of Rs 30,000.

Thipsay had on May 6 granted 48-hour interim bail to the actor, hours after he was convicted and sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment by the trial court on the ground that he had not been supplied with a detailed order explaining the reasons for his conviction.

The term of interim bail was to expire on Friday.

Deciding the conditions of bail, Judge Thipsay asked if Salman’s passport was with him and was told that it was in the possession of the Bandra police and the actor routinely sought its permission before going abroad.

Earlier, the court admitted Khan’s plea against conviction and heard arguments of the prosecution and defence.

Defence counsels Amit Desai and Shrikant Shivade said the trial court had failed to appreciate the fact that four witnesses had maintained there were four persons present in the Toyota Land Cruiser when the accident took place on September 28, 2002, and that it was Salman’s driver Ashok Singh who was at the wheel.

One person had died and four others injured in the accident.

The defence’s argument that it was Singh who drove the vehicle that ran over five people sleeping on the pavement outside a Bandra bakery had been rejected by the trial court, which had said evidence showed that the actor himself was behind the wheel.

Prosecutor Sandeep Shinde, while seeking denial of bail to the actor, countered its claim, saying it was only just before the conclusion of the trial that Salman Khan had made a statement under section 313 of CrPC in which he claimed it was Singh, who was driving the SUV.

Salman was himself not present in the court during the hearing as it was not required under the law.

The actor has challenged the findings of the trial court that he was drunk and was driving under the influence of liquor.

Salman has also pleaded that the trial court had wrongly convicted him under the culpable homicide charge because he had no knowledge that he would meet with an accident.

He had sought bail until the time his appeal had been finally heard and disposed of, saying he had never violated any bail conditions imposed on him by the court in the past.

Scores of Salman’s fans had gathered outside his Bandra residence and the high court since early morning and as soon as the news of suspension of his sentence spread they erupted in joy.

Several of them broke into a jig carrying others on shoulders.

As Salman left for the trial court to execute a fresh bail bond, a large number of fans were seen running after the convoy.