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Bombay High Court Suspends Salman's Jail Sentence
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The Bombay High Court on Friday suspended actor Salman Khan's five-year prison sentence in the 2002 hit-and-run case and granted him bail pending his appeal against conviction.
The High Court said it will expedite the hearing and posted the matter for June 15.
"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 said.
"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?" the judge said.
Justice Thipsay noted that Khan has been on bail throughout the trial even after being slapped with the serious charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
"There are a number of arguable points raised about whether or not Khan was driving the car. It is also nobody's case that Khan will abscond if he released on bail, pending appeal," he said.
The judge directed Salman to surrender before the trial court and furnish a fresh bail bond of Rs 30,000.
Thipsay had on May 6 granted 48-hour interim bail to the actor, hours after he was convicted and sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment by the trial court on the ground that he had not been supplied with a detailed order explaining the reasons for his conviction.
The term of interim bail was to expire on Friday.
Deciding the conditions of bail, Judge Thipsay asked if Salman's passport was with him and was told that it was in the possession of the Bandra police and the actor routinely sought its permission before going abroad.
Earlier, the court admitted Khan's plea against conviction and heard arguments of the prosecution and defence.
Defence counsels Amit Desai and Shrikant Shivade said the trial court had failed to appreciate the fact that four witnesseses had maintained there were four persons present in the Toyota Land Cruiser when the accident took place on September 28, 2002, and that it was Salman's driver Ashok Singh who was at the wheel.
One person had died and four others injured in the accident.
The defence's argument that it was Singh who drove the vehicle that ran over five people sleeping on the pavement outside a Bandra bakery had been rejected by the trial court, which had said evidence showed that the actor himself was behind the wheel.
Prosecutor Sandeep Shinde, while seeking denial of bail to the actor, countered its claim, saying it was only just before the conclusion of the trial that Salman Khan had made a statement under section 313 of CrPC in which he claimed it was Singh, who was driving the SUV.
Salman was himself not present in the court during the hearing as it was not required under the law.
A huge crowd of fans gathered outside the Bollywood superstar's residence in suburban Bandra in the morning as the high court heard the 49-year-old actor's bail plea.
Police was deployed outside the actor's home at Galaxy apartment to maintain order.
The actor had a steady stream of visitors on Thursday. They included MNS chief Raj Thackeray and his Bollywood colleagues like Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha and Karan Johar.
Abdullah Sheikh, who was injured in the accident outside the American Express bakery in Bandra, said he was not interested in whether the actor is punished or not, but he should get compensation.
In a year when most film releases haven't done well, the superstar's conviction could dent Bollywood's collection for 2015 and 2016 at least by Rs 400-500 crore.
At least seven films and half a dozen brands endorsed by the actor would suffer, said film trade analysts and celebrity managers.
Mandhana Industries, which is associated with Khan, said on Thursday the verdict would not have any impact on its apparel business.
"We believe that the verdict will have no impact on our apparel business since we will continue serving our patrons with the same integrity," Mandhana Industries Managing Director Manish Mandhana said in a statement.
Shares of Mandhana Industries plunged 4.24 per cent to close at Rs 264.50 on Wednesday, immediately after the guilty verdict.
Mandhana Industries has been associated with Khan's non-governmental organisation called 'Being Human'.
It has an exclusive licence agreement with "Being Human" to design, market and distribute "Being Human" branded clothing products.