The 2002 hit-and-run case involving actor Salman Khan was on Tuesday assigned to a sessions judge who will also hear his appeal challenging a Magistrate's order invoking the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder which provides for punishment up to 10 years.
Principal Sessions Judge Swapna Joshi assigned the case to Sessions Judge U B Hejib. However, papers have not yet reached the concerned judge. Once the papers are transferred to this court, the judge would issue notice to the actor and fix a date for hearing his case, court sources told PTI.
The magistrate had asked Salman to appear on March 11, but he did not come to the court because 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 hearing and the actor would have to appear on that day, the sources added.
On March 8, the actor's lawyer Ashok Mundargi had urged the sessions court to hear the issue of Salman's retrial in the accident case, along with his appeal against the magistrate's order invoking the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
In his appeal, the actor argued the magistrate had erred in invoking 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder' (Section 304 part II of the Indian Penal Code) in the hit-and-run case of 2002, terming it as "bad in law". The offence under this section is to be tried by a sessions court.
Earlier, he was tried by a magistrate under a lesser charge of causing death by negligence (Section 304 A of the Indian Penal Code), that provides for a maximum punishment of two years in jail.
After examining 17 witnesses, the magistrate had come to the conclusion that the charge of 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder' was made out against the actor and transferred the case to the sessions court for retrial.
Salman's lawyer argued 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 four 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 suburb in the wee hours of September 28, 2002.