Actor Salman Khan will now be tried for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, after a Mumbai court on Monday rejected his appeal challenging a magistrate's order invoking this charge.
If found guilty, the actor might face a ten-year prison term. Salman was earlier tried by a magistrate under the lesser charge of causing death by negligence, which provides for a maximum punishment of two years in jail.
However, the Bandra metropolitan magistrate in January this year, after examining 17 witnesses, had invoked the more serious charge of culpable homicide against the 47-year-old actor and transferred it to a sessions court for re-trial, which will begin on July 19.
Salman had allegedly rammed his Toyota Land Cruiser into American Express Bakery on Hill Road junction in Bandra and then run over a group of sleeping persons on the pavement in front of the bakery on 28 September, 2002, killing one and injuring four others.
An expert who had analysed the actor’s blood had told a court that the actor was drunk at the time of the accident. Salman’s police bodyguard Ravindra Patil, in his deposition, had confirmed the actor was drunk and had been advised by him against driving in an inebriated state.
Salman’s counsel Ashok Mundargi argued the Bandra magistrate had failed to appreciate that the actor had no intention to kill people, but public prosecutor Shankar Erande defended the charge, saying Salman had ignored Patil’s advice.