The Mumbai high court has suspended the sentence of Bollywood’s star Salman Khan for a conviction of a hit-and-run that occurred in 2002, pending his appeal. On Wednesday, the star had been convicted by a lower court of culpable homicide. The actor had been sentenced to five years in prison for killing Noor Ullah Khan when he drove over him while he slept on a pavement. Four other homeless individuals were also injured.
It was expected by many that Khan would be jailed on Friday, but his bail was extended by the court. A final appeals hearing will take place in July. During his trial, the star actor had argued that his driver had been driving the car, but the judge said that the actor himself had been behind the wheel and had been under the influence of alcohol.
Within a few hours of his conviction, the actor had approached the high court and had been granted interim bail for about two days, which meant that he could stay out of prison. He had been facing a possible 10-year jail term, but once he got bail, he went home where he was visited by a number of Bollywood stars.
Khan’s lawyer had argued in the high court that the prosecution hadn’t been able to prove the actor’s guilt, that he had been given a harsh sentence because he was a celebrity and also that an important witness had been ignored. According to correspondents, the ruling on Friday would come off as a huge relief to Khan whose sentencing had divided the Indians. It was told by a prosecutor that the actor wouldn’t be able to travel abroad without the permission of the court.
While there were lots of colleagues and fans that supported the actor after his sentencing, others called out that Salman Khan should be treated the same way as any other citizen of the country would be if they had committed a crime. On Friday, once his sentence had been suspended, there were lots of fans celebrating outside his home and even distributed sweets, danced and swung and also set off firecrackers. A number of fans had also gathered outside the court and one had even tried to kill himself by consuming poison.
He had even requested to be imprisoned in place of Khan through the leaflets he distributed. The police had taken him away. The suspension of the sentence wasn’t welcomed by some people as they thought it wasn’t justified.