The Supreme Court on Tuesday admitted a plea by the Maharashtra government challenging the acquittal of Bollywood actor Salman Khan in a 2002 hit-and-run case but declined to fast-track the hearing of the matter.
A bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice Arun Mishra admitted the plea by the Maharashtra government after senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for the actor, told the court that Khan would like it to hear the plea on merits.
In the last hearing of the matter, the court had asked the actor whether he would consent to the hearing of the matter on merits. Sibal told the bench that he spoke to Khan and he wants the “matter being heard and decided on merits”.
As the court admitted the plea by the Maharashtra government against the acquittal verdict of the Bombay High Court, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi urged the bench to expedite the hearing by giving some date after six months.
“It is a 15-year-old case. If the hearing could be expedited and court indicating some date after six months,” Rohtagi told the court realising that the plea by the Maharashtra government may take years before it comes up for hearing.
But the apex court declined.
“There are so many serious matters pending. You can’t ask for the fast-tracking of the matter merely because so and so is X (Salman Khan)”, said Justice Khehar, declining the plea for expediting the hearing.
The high court had on December 10, 2015, acquitted Khan, saying that ” the prosecution has failed to prove the charges against Khan on all counts”.
The apex court had on February 19, 2016, issued notice to Khan on the Maharashtra government’s petition challenging the December 2015 Bombay High Court verdict.
Khan was found guilty by a sessions court on May 6, 2015 and convicted for, among others, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and sentenced to five years in jail for the accident, in which one person was killed and four others injured.
Khan had in an affidavit filed on March 17, 2016 told the Supreme Court that he was not driving his Toyota Land Cruiser when it killed a man in Mumbai in 2002 but the police was trying to implicate him in the case.
Claiming that his driver Ashok Singh was at the wheels, Khan had said the prosecution had failed to produce a single witness or a photograph showing that he was driving it.
The Maharashtra government had contended that there were scores of witnesses at the accident spot who saw Khan in the driver’s seat.