Bombay HC suspends Salman’s sentence, let him off on bail
Mumbai: Salman Khan will not have to go to jail pending disposal of his appeal against conviction in the 2002 hit-and-run case after the Bombay High Court suspended his sentence and granted him bail, in a huge relief to one of the reigning superstars of Bollywood.
“This is not a case where I should keep him (Khan) in jail till his appeal is heard and decided. Why his right should suffer when his appeal is admitted and kept pending? “In many cases people have suffered and spent their entire prison term only to be acquitted later by the High Court,” Justice Abhay Thipsay observed, before staying execution of the 5-year jail sentence awarded to Khan by the trial court on Wednesday and ordering that he be enlarged on bail.
Justice Thipsay had granted interim bail to 49-year-old Khan hours after his conviction and sentencing by sessions court judge DW Deshpande on the ground that the actor had not been supplied with a detailed and reasoned order. The tenure of the 48-hour interim relief was to end today.
A man was killed and four others were wounded when Khan's Toyota Land Cruiser ran over them while they were asleep on a pavement outside a bakery in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002.
“The normal rule is that when an appeal is admitted and the sentence is under seven years, it (the sentence) is suspended. Why do you (prosecution) want to depart from this norm?” Justice Thipsay said, rejecting prosecution's contentions against the suspension of sentence.
Since the term of the interim bail was to expire this evening, the judge asked Khan to surrender before the trial court, execute a fresh bond of Rs 30,000 and furnish a surety of the like amount for obtaining regular bail.
Anywhere between Rs 200 crore and Rs 250 crore was said to be riding on the popular actor and the court's order would come as a huge relief to the jittery Hindi film world, which kept its fingers crossed since Wednesday's judgement of the trial court.
Hundreds of Khan's anxious fans had collected outside the high court and the actor's Bandra residence since early morning and the mood was sullen.
Police contingents in riot gear deployed in both places had a tough time regulating the crowds that waited with bated breath for a 'positive' outcome on Khan's appeal in the high court.
As the word came out that the high court had stayed the sentence pending disposal of Khan's appeal, exultant fans burst firecrackers, broke into a wild jig, hopped, jumped and carried each other on shoulders, throwing traffic into disarray for a while.