Bollywood actor Salman Khan said on Thursday he accepted with “humility” the verdict of the Bombay High Court acquitting him of all charges in the 2002 hit-and-run case.
“I accept the decision of the judiciary with humility. I thank my family, friends and fans for their support and prayers,” Salman tweeted on Thursday.
The Bombay high court acquitted Khan of all charges in the 2002 hit-and-run case, quashing a trial court verdict that held him guilty of driving his Toyota Land Cruiser over people sleeping on a Bandra footpath.
Post-verdict, Salman completed various legal formalities in the court, including executing a bond if the prosecution decided to appeal in the case, before he could walk out a free man.
The news of Salman getting a breather from the court was followed by a string of congratulatory messages from his friends and colleagues from the film industry, as well as from his fans.
Delivering the verdict, Justice AR Joshi said the actor “cannot be convicted” on the basis of the evidences produced by the prosecution in the 13-year-old case and trial.
Most family members, including his father Salim Khan, his sisters, brothers, and aides accompanied him for the judgment. Even his long-time bodyguard Shera could be seen shielding the actor from the media around the court premises.
Salman rushed to Mumbai from a shooting schedule in Karjat, in adjacent Raigad district, following the court’s directive to be present on Thursday.
Justice AR Joshi said the 49-year-old actor cannot be convicted because the “prosecution has failed to prove the charges against Khan on all counts”.
Salman, who was sitting with a straight face along with sister Alvira and manager Reshma, reportedly broke down in tears once the verdict was read. He left the courtroom after the judge directed him to furnish a fresh surety bond of Rs 25,000 and asked police to return his passport.
The actor had appealed against the sessions court’s May order that delivered a five-year jail sentence after convicting him of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for running over five people on a pavement, one of whom died later, in Bandra West on September 28, 2002.
Justice Joshi observed he cannot be convicted on the basis of evidence submitted by the prosecution. He also pointed out “various shortcomings in the investigation and prosecution’s evidence”.
“Doubt arises over involvement of appellant on charges … Investigation was conducted in a faulty manner with scant regard to procedure,” he said after seeking Salman’s presence in court before pronouncing the final verdict.
On Wednesday, the high court opened a window of hope for the popular actor when it had observed that the prosecution had not convincingly proved he was drunk or at the wheel of his SUV when the vehicle ran over five people in Bandra West on September 28, 2002.
(With inputs from agencies)