Salman Khan, top Bollywood star, has been found guilty of drunkenly driving his SUV over homeless men sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai 13 years ago. One man had died and four were injured. The actor is charged with culpable homicide, which carries a jail term of up to 10 years.
Additional Sessions Judge DW Deshpande has just finished hearing arguments on the sentence for Salman Khan, who looked dejected as the verdict was pronounced. The actor is expected to be sentenced at 1.10 pm.
“You were driving the car, without a licence and you were under the influence of alcohol,” the judge told Salman Khan this morning, holding him guilty of all seven charges against him in the case.
When he asked the actor what he had to say, Salman Khan denied the charges against him and said he was not driving the car, reports Press Trust of India.
The judge said it was “not probable” that Salman’s driver Ashok Singh was driving the car. The actor said during the trial that Ashok Singh was driving when his Toyota Land Cruiser mounted the pavement where the five men were sleeping outside a bakery in Bandra West on September 28, 2002.
Last month, Ashok Singh, the sole defence witness, took the stand and said he was driving and crashed the car after the front left tyre burst, making steering and braking difficult. Ashok Singh drove Salman to court today.
The prosecution said in its final arguments today that it is likely to file a case of perjury against Ashok Singh.
During arguments on sentencing, Salman’s lawyers have talked of his charitable work through his NGO, Being Human. “You can’t punish him more because he is an actor,” the lawyers pleaded, seeking a maximum sentence of three years in prison and an enhanced fine.
The prosecution has argued for a “serious view” and pleaded that maximum sentence be awarded.
The actor’s brother Sohail and sisters Alvira and Arpita were present in court. Alvira broke down as the judge pronounced verdict. The film fraternity has rallied around Salman Khan. Many, including actor Shah Rukh Khan, had visited him at home.