In a major setback for actor Salman Khan, the additional metropolitan magistrate's court at Bandra on Thursday added the harsher legal section of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the 2002 hit-and-run case.
Under this section, if found guilty, the court can award Khan a maximum punishment of 10 years’ of imprisonment.
Khan was initially charged with sections 304 A (rash and negligent driving), 279 (rash driving), 337 (causing minor injuries), 338 (causing major injuries) and 427 (negligence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Additional metropolitan magistrate Vilas Patil committed the case to the Bombay sessions court. The actor has to appear before the sessions court on March 11, where charges would be framed against him.
As per the prosecution case, on September 28, 2002, Khan’s Toyota Land Cruiser, allegedly being driven by him, rammed into a bakery in Bandra (West), killing one and injuring four others who were sleeping on the pavement.
In the 21-page reasoned order, the magistrate relied on the testimony of the actor’s former bodyguard and a sole eyewitness, police constable Ravindra Patil.
The order states that Patil had warned Khan to drive slowly as there was a turn ahead, but Khan continued to drive at 100kmph under the influence of alcohol.
The magistrate also considered the deposition of the wine shop owner, who said the actor had bought beer cans from him.
The court observed that there was more than enough evidence to show that Khan had the knowledge that his negligent act could lead to an accident, which can cause deaths.
The prosecution had in March 2011 moved an application before the magistrate court to apply the harsher section.
Khan’s advocate Dipesh Mehta had argued that the incident was just an accident as he had lost control over the car.
The court observed that the circumstances and evidence indicated that it was not just an accident and there was enough evidence with the court to apply the section.