Salman Khan, who was allegedly driving a Land Cruiser that ran over and killed one individual and injured four others in 2002, will now be tried under Section 304, Part II, of the IPC. This section deals with ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ and carries with it a maximum punishment of 10 years. Prior to this, the actor was being tried under the lesser charge of ‘causing death by negligence’ (Section 304A of the IPC). This charge at most carries with it a punishment of two years’ imprisonment.
This decision to enhance charges against Khan came about when a sessions court upheld a magistrate court’s order to do so. After examining the witnesses associated with the case, the magistrate, VS Patil, stated that the actor had the knowledge that driving and speeding in a drunken state could lead to death. Thus he should be tried accordingly. He then transferred the case to the sessions court for a retrial.
The case dates back to 28 September 2002, when the actor allegedly rammed his vehicle into the American Express Bakery on Hill Road, Bandra. The victims were sleeping on the footpath outside the bakery. The incident occurred early in the morning but Khan surrendered only around eight hours after the accident took place. The case was built around a statement given by the now deceased Ravindra Patil, the police bodyguard who had been deployed for the actor’s security and was accompanying him during the time of the accident. Patil initially claimed that Khan had driven rashly and later admitted that he was also drunk.
The actor’s lawyer, Ashok Mundargi, told The Times of India that they would assess their next step soon, which includes challenging the order before the Bombay High Court. The case will recommence under the new charges on 19 July.