Actor Salman Khan has been sentenced to five years in prison for culpable homicide and other charges. He was found guilty in a Mumbai Sessions Court of driving his SUV over homeless men sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai 13 years ago, in a drunken state. One man had died and four were injured. Salman, who was shooting in Kashmir for his film ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, returned to Mumbai on Monday for the verdict Judge DW Deshpande convicted the 49-year-old of culpable homicide for crashing his SUV while drunk into a group of homeless men sleeping on the pavement and then fleeing the scene. “You were driving the car, without a licence and you were under the influence of alcohol,” the judge told the Bollywood star who was present in the court.
This verdict marks the end of one of the most awaited legal judgements in India, which took 13 years to be delivered. The Bollywood star tried all tricks in the game to evade conviction, the last being getting his driver to confess to the crime and giving clean chit to him. But the Judge disregarded all this and sentenced him to five years imprisonment.
It is difficult to call it delivery of justice, given it has taken 13 long years for this verdict to come and the actor still has the option of appealing against this in a higher court. The actor also has the option of appealing for a bail in the High Court. The victims in this case have been poor migrant workers in the city. The legal system in India is notorious for delivering delayed verdicts. In some cases it takes many decades for the judgements to be delivered, which goes against the concept of justice. This case has again brought Indian judicarys lopsided working into focus. A myriad of factors are responsible for such delays, notably lack of proper infrastructure, shortage of manpower, lethargic policing and investigation and an asymmetric social structure.
Be that as it may, the judgement in this case is a welcome step, given that a high level celebrity was involved. Also Bollywood fraternity tried to reinforce that a lot of money was riding on Salman Khan given his incomplete projects. The Judge had none of that and delivered a five year imprisonment for the convict. On the social media, the actors fans have been crying foul and are displaying misplaced sympathy with him. The film industry has also expressed its shock over the judgement. Even the electronic media has gone overboard and given an impression that this judgement was harsh. Shockingly hardly anyone is coming out in the open and showing their sympathy with the victims. That unfortunately shows the ugly side of Indian society, that it is consumed by glamour, power and money.
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