Actor Salman Khan was on Friday directed by a Mumbai sessions court to appear before it on July 24 for framing of charges, setting the stage for start of a fresh trial for culpable homicide in the 2002 hit-and-run case for which he can face a jail term upto 10 years.
Sessions judge U B Hejib had on June 24 upheld a metropolitan court's order that the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was made out against the 47-year-old Bollywood superstar, dismissed his appeal against the verdict, and asked him to appear before the court on Friday.
The actor had earlier been tried by a metropolitan magistrate for a lesser offence of causing death by negligence (Section 304 A of IPC), which provides for a maximum sentence of two years. He will now stand trial under a law pertaining to culpable homicide that could attract a jail term upto ten years.
Attired in a blue shirt and pair of jeans, the actor appeared before the sessions judge who asked him to sit in the dock. Salman sat alone on a bench, while his sister Arpita stood beside him outside the dock. His other sister, Alvira, was also present in the court room along with his personal bodyguard.
The trial in the sessions court would start afresh as the Bandra metropolitan court had halted the proceedings midway after examining 17 witnesses, ruling that the more serious charge of culpable homicide was made out against the actor. An offence under the charge of culpable homicide is triable by a sessions court.
Salman was occasionally seen dozing off as Arpita prodded him to keep him awake.
Outside the court there was a commotion as litigants and advocates were prevented by police from entering the room. On one occasion, the judge asked his staff to go out and tell the people gathered there not to make noise.
In a related development, the judge reserved till July 24 his order on two applications -- one moved by activist Santosh Daundkar, seeking to intervene in the trial, and another by the actor's counsel for restraining the media from maligning the actor.
Salman's counsel Shrikant Shivade opposed the application filed by Daundkar, saying it was a ploy by him to gain publicity. He argued that Daundkar had no locus standi in the matter and was in the habit of going to the media every now and then to malign Salman.
Daundkar's lawyer Abha Singh rejected the allegation and said she was seeking court's permission to file written submissions in regard to false evidence given by police earlier to delay the trial in the nearly 11-year-old case.
"This exercise is being done to help the prosecution in public interest. Under section 301(2) Cr.PC, the court gives a third party the right to help the prosecutor," she argued.
Prosecutor Shankar Erande opposed the plea to allow the application but did not elaborate the grounds.
Salman's lawyer also filed an application objecting to derogatory views shown against the actor on video-sharing website YouTube by the audio-visual media.
The Prosecutor said he had no objection to the actor's application and the court reserved its order on both applications till July 24.
A man was killed and four others were injured when a Land Cruiser allegedly driven by an inebriated Salman had ploughed through a group of people sleeping on the pavement outside a bakery in suburban Bandra in the wee hours of September 28, 2002.