Salman Khan granted two day bail after five year prison sentence
Salman Khan has been granted interim bail for two days by the Mumbai high court, after his lawyers moved for a bail application following Khan’s sentencing to a five year jail term. The actor, one of India’s most popular movie stars, had been found guilty of killing a homeless man in 2002 in a hit-and-run case that has dragged through the courts for more than 12 years.
Khan, who was convicted of culpable homicide, ran over five men sleeping on a pavement in the upmarket Mumbai suburb of Bandra West, killing one. Saying that all the charges against the star had been proved, judge DW Deshpande told the actor: “You were driving the car without a licence and you were under the influence of alcohol.” Khan is expected to appeal against the conviction.
The prosecution told the court that Khan was drunk when he rammed his SUV into a group of people sleeping on a sidewalk in September 2002, with a number of witnesses naming him as the driver of the vehicle. One of the labourers injured in the accident said in his statement to police: “Salman was so drunk he fell. He stood, but he fell again and then he … ran away.”
Khan has always denied that he was behind the wheel. In April, his driver, Ashok Singh, said that it was he, not the actor, who was driving the vehicle when the accident occurred, and that he lost control of the SUV when one its tyres burst. Khan’s lawyers claimed the star had been drinking water all evening, and had climbed out of the driver’s seat after the accident because the passenger door was damaged. They also said the victim, Nurulah Mahbob Sharif, was killed during an attempt to move the car, when the bumper fell off and landed on him.
During the sentencing phase of the hearing, Khan’s defence team argued against prison, saying the actor had given generously to charity and was suffering from a neurological condition. “We are not running away from responsibility,” counsel said. But the prosecution countered that “fines are not enough” and that the punishment had to be a deterrent to others.
Khan has been a reliable box-office draw in an industry that has recently seen profits fall, and has acted in more than 90 Hindi-language films in his 27-year career. Four of his films, which include the action-comedies Dabangg and Bodyguard, are in the top 10 highest-grossing Indian films of all time. The son of famed Bollywood scriptwriter Salim Khan, and with cross-community appeal and significant fanbases among both Hindus and Muslims, his most recent hit is the action thriller Kick, in which he plays a good-hearted, daredevil rogue.
Khan and Karisma Kapoor in Biwi No 1 (1999)
His case has been closely watched by millions in India and abroad, with huge crowds gathering outside of his house ahead of the verdict. The star, who moved into philanthropy with the Being Human charitable trust, remains a popular star despite a troubled off-screen history. In 2003, an ex-girlfriend, former Miss World Aishwarya Rai, blamed his violent behaviour on alcoholism, while in 1998 he spent more than a week in prison for killing endangered Indian gazelles.
Bollywood studios stand to lose millions of pounds if they have to cancel filming for movies he has been signed to. Khan has several films in the pipeline, with industry analysts predicting that 2.5bn rupees (£25.9m) worth of film production riding on him.
“It’s not just about the films he has in hand. It’s about the films he will be making in the next five years,” Shailesh Kapoor of the industry tracker Ormax Media, told Reuters. “It will be a lost opportunity. Given how much Bollywood is struggling these days, it will hit where it hurts.”
Khan has become the second big-name Bollywood actor to be imprisoned in the past two years. Sanjay Dutt, star of a series of gangster movies, was jailed for possession of weapons that were linked to several bombings in Mumbai in 1993.
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