MUMBAI — More than 12 years after the trial began, a lower court in Mumbai will pronounce the final verdict on the Salman Khan hit-and-run case, in which the 49-year-old actor has been accused of killing one and injuring four others after he allegedly — and drunkenly — rammed his white Toyota Land Cruiser into Bandra's American Express bakery. This incident, whose victims were all pavement-dwellers, occurred in the early hours of September 28, 2002.
The verdict will be announced on Wednesday, May 6.
Khan has been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder under IPC Section 304(II), sections 279, 337, 338, 427, and under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949. If pronounced guilty, he faces 10 years in prison.
Public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat told Agence France-Presse he had presented the case as best he could to the Mumbai sessions court judge, adding “we can only hope but cannot predict” a conviction.
“I am 100% confident that I have done my job and duty to the best of my ability,” Gharat was quoted as saying.
After years of no-shows and missing witnesses (see slideshow below), Khan pleaded not guilty at trial in late March. Instead, his driver Ashok Singh claimed responsibility for the late-night crash.
Meanwhile, the film industry is keeping its fingers crossed as an investment of about Rs 200 crore is riding on him, reports The Economic Times.
Khan is one of Bollywood's most bankable stars, having delivered a string of hits that have earned more than Rs 100 crore at the box-office over the past five years. Trade analyst Komal Nahata told ET that "the film industry is hoping that nothing terrible happens," with either a not-guilty verdict or minimal sentence being the preferred outcomes. Two upcoming films slated for release this year — 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan', which stars Kareena Kapoor, and 'Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo', with Sonam Kapoor — are currently in the final stages of completion, said the report.
The report also stated: "Amod Mehra, another trade analyst, said Salman had committed to do four others films, including 'Dabangg 3' and 'Entry Mein No Entry', but these were only at the stage of announcement."