Maharashtra to challenge Salman’s acquittal in SC

Mumbai, Dec 23 (IANS) The Maharashtra government on Wednesday informed the Bombay High Court that it will appeal in the Supreme Court against the acquittal of Bollywood star Salman Khan in the 2002 accident case.

A special leave petition (SLP) challenging the actor’s acquittal will be filed soon before the apex court, said government pleader A. Vagyani during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by journalist-activist Nikhil Wagle seeking compensation for the accident victims.

Vagyani said the state law and judiciary department had granted sanction to file the SLP in the Supreme Court against the high court verdict, which would be done in due course.

In Nagpur, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis reiterated that the state government will study the verdict and then take a decision to challenge it.

Almost a decade ago, Salman had deposited the compensation amounts for the victims as per the high court’s directions, and Wagle’s PIL revolves around enhancement of punishment in drunken driving cases and related procedures to serve as an effective deterrent.

The Bombay High Court had set aside a sessions court judgment and acquitted the 49-year-old actor of all charges including ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’ on December 10.

Justice A.R. Joshi also held that the prosecution failed to prove that Salman was either drunk or driving at the time of the accident in the early hours of September 28, 2002, which left one pavement dweller dead, and four others injured in Bandra area.

The high court ruling came on an appeal filed by Salman, challenging the verdict of the sessions court last May which had found him guilty on various counts and awarded him a five-year jail term for the accident.

Meanwhile, legal experts, social activists, former police officials and others welcomed the state government’s decision to challenge the high court verdict acquitting the actor.

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