Hearing of the 2002 hit-and-run case involving Salman Khan was on Monday deferred to April 8 by a sessions court which accepted his lawyer's prayer for time to file a document even as the actor did not make a personal appearance.
The actor, who had returned from the United States in the early hours on Sunday, was widely expected to appear before the court since it was the first day of hearing in the case, which has already been tried by a magistrate's court.
The actor's return from the US, just a day ahead of hearing, had fuelled speculation in the media that he would make a personal appearance.
Sessions court Judge U B Hejib said he will first hear the actor's appeal challenging the order of Bandra magistrate invoking the charge of 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder', a serious offence under the Indian Penal Code which attracts maximum punishment up to 10 years.
A lawyer appeared on behalf of Salman's senior counsel Ashok Mundargi and sought time to file certain documents which he did not specify. Accepting his prayer, the court adjourned the hearing for two weeks.
Sessions Judge U B Hejib said he would decide Salman's revision application (appeal) on April 8 before hearing the hit-and-run case in which the actor is facing charges of running his car over people sleeping on a footpath, killing one and injuring four.
After hearing the arguments, the court may either reject Salman's appeal and go ahead with the trial or refer the matter back to the Magistrate and ask him to conduct the case, legal sources told PTI.
Salman had earlier been tried by a Magistrate under the lesser charge of 'causing death by negligence' (Section 304 A) which is punishable with two years imprisonment.
However, on a plea filed by the state and the Mumbai police, the magistrate had invoked the charge of 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder' (section 304 part II) which is triable by a sessions court.
The magistrate, while remanding the case to sessions court for trial, had asked Salman to present himself on March 11 but he did not appear because at that time it was not decided who will hear the matter. Now that a judge has been assigned to hear the case, he would fix a date for the trial and the actor will have to appear on that day, the sources said.
After examining 17 witnesses, the magistrate had come to the conclusion that the charge of culpable homicide was made out against the actor and transferred the case to the sessions court for retrial.
On March 8, Salman's lawyer Ashok Mundargi had urged the sessions court that both the actor's trial and appeal against Magistrate's order invoking the charge of culpable homicide be heard by the same judge. The actor's plea was granted and the matter assigned to Hejib.
In his appeal, the actor has argued that the magistrate had erred in invoking the charge of culpable homicide, terming it as ‘bad in law’.
Salman's lawyer contended that the magistrate had failed to appreciate that he (Salman) had neither the intention (to kill people) nor the knowledge that his rash and negligent driving would kill a person or cause injury to others.
One person was killed and four others were injured when the Land Cruiser allegedly driven by the actor crushed a group of people sleeping on the pavement outside a bakery in Bandra in the wee hours of September 28, 2002.