‘Celebrities have equal rights’: SC rejects appeal against Shah Rukh Khan
A Congress leader Jitendra Solanki challenged the Gujarat high court ruling in April this year that ended a criminal case registered against Shah Rukh Khan in connection with the death of a man at Vadodara railway station in 2017.
Celebrities have rights like all other citizens and cannot be made vicariously culpable, the Supreme Court remarked on Monday, as it declined to revive a criminal case against actor Shah Rukh Khan for allegedly triggering a melee at Vadodara railway station in 2017 while promoting his film, Raees, during which a man had died of a heart attack.
“What was the fault of this man (Khan)? Just because he is a celebrity, it doesn’t mean he has no rights,” the bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravi Kumar observed while affirming the Gujarat high court order that quashed the criminal case against the actor in April.
The court said Khan could not be expected to ensure everyone’s safety or provide personal guarantee while travelling by train. “If somebody travels by train, there is no personal guarantee. A celebrity has equal rights like every other citizen of the country,” it emphasised.
The bench added: “He (Khan) is a celebrity but that doesn’t mean he can control everyone else. Let us focus on more important subjects that deserve attention and time of this court.”
Shah Rukh Khan was represented in the court through senior counsel Sidharth Luthra and a team of lawyers from Karanjawala & Co.
A huge crowd gathered at the Vadodara railway station on January 23, 2017, upon the arrival of the August Kranti Express in which Khan was travelling to promote the movie.
Farheed Khan Pathan, a local politician, suffered a heart attack at the railway station during the stampede-like situation caused by the people eager to catch a glimpse of the actor. A few others were injured in the incident as Khan reportedly threw ‘smiley balls’ and ‘t-shirts’ at the crowd as part of the promotion.
Later that year, a Vadodara magisterial court issued summons to Khan based on the complaint of Congress leader Jitendra Solanki who pressed for lodging an FIR against the actor.
The local court issued summons to Khan after noting that there was sufficient ground for proceedings against him in the case under sections 336, 337 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly committing acts endangering the life or personal safety of others and causing simple and grievous hurt to them by such acts.
However, in April this year, the high court quashed the criminal case holding that Khan cannot be held guilty of criminal negligence, nor can it be said that his acts were the exact cause of the incident. The high court also pointed out that Khan had the administration’s permission to promote the event.
During Monday’s hearing, Solanki’s lawyer contended that the high court turned the criminal jurisprudence “upside down” by watering down the charges against Khan despite acknowledging that the actor was reckless.
The bench however, questioned the “personal interest” Solanki was taking to doggedly pursue the case and asked him to rest the matter. “It is better to sum up these cases,” said the bench, dismissing his appeal.