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SC gives relief to Salman in hit-and-run case
December 18, 2003 12:09 IST
Last Updated: December 18, 2003 13:30 IST
The Supreme Court on Thursday gave relief to actor Salman Khan by ordering that the charge of culpable homicide should not be added at present in the trial proceedings against him in a rash-and-negligent driving case.
The judgment was given by a bench comprising Justice N Santosh Hegde and Justice B P Singh while disposing of a Maharashtra government's Special Leave Petition challenging a Bombay high court order quashing a sessions court order framing 'culpable homicide' under Section 304-II of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The bench said that both the orders -- one of the sessions court framing the charge and the other of the high court quashing the charge -- were untenable in law as such a view 'in certainty about a particular charge' could be taken only at the stage of trial and not at the stage of framing of charge.
Salman was arrested in September last year for ramming his vehicle into a bakery while driving in a drunken state that resulted in the death of one and injuries to four others.
Justice Hegde, who pronounced the judgment on behalf of the bench, said that as the magistrate's court at Bandra has already framed charges against Salman under Section 304A (rash and negligent act not amounting to murder) of IPC it would not be proper for the apex court to interfere in the same.
The court, however, said that if the magistrate, during any stage of the trial, found from the evidence on record that the charge under Section 304-II could be framed, he was at liberty to do so uninfluenced by the observations of the high court and the apex court.
If the prosecution could produce evidence to prove during the trial that Salman had the knowledge that such rash and negligent driving allegedly under the influence of alcohol could cause death, then he would be charged under section 304-II of IPC.
The maximum punishment under section 304-II is a sentence of 10 years imprisonment. The maximum sentence, however, under section 304A is of two years imprisonment.
The apex court, while setting aside the high court judgment, said that it should not have entered into discussion of the evidence at such a preliminary stage of framing of charges.
Criticising the sessions court's order framing the stringent charge against the actor, the bench said it would have been appropriate if the sessions court had not discussed the evidence at the framing of charge stage and come out with remarks about the certainty of the nature of offence.
It set aside the orders of both the high court and sessions court terming them as 'premature'.
The apex court clarified that its judgment should not be construed at any stage by any court as an expression of view on the merits of the case.
Salman was arrested on charges of rash and negligent driving on September 27 last year and the charges were framed against him in May this year.
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