In a major reprieve for Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, the Bombay High Court today suspended the five-year sentence awarded to him in the 2002 hit-and-run case, admitted his appeal against conviction and granted him bail.
Justice Abhay Thipsay directed Khan to surrender before the trial court forthwith and execute a fresh bail bond of Rs 30,000. The interim bail granted to the actor hours after his conviction and sentencing on Wednesday was to expire today.
While admitting the 49-year-old actor’s appeal, the HC said it will expedite the hearing on it and posted the matter for June 15.
“This is not a case where I should keep him (Khan) in jail till his appeal is heard and decided. Why his right should suffer when his appeal is admitted and kept pending? In many cases people have suffered and spent their entire prison term only to be acquitted later by the High Court,” Justice Thipsay observed.
“The normal rule is that when an appeal is admitted and the sentence is under seven years, it (the sentence) is suspended. Why do you (prosecution) want to depart from this norm?” the court said.
Justice Thipsay noted that Khan has been on bail throughout the trial even after being slapped with the serious charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
“There are a number of arguable points raised about whether or not Khan was driving the car. It is also nobody’s case that Khan will abscond if he released on bail, pending appeal,” he said.
Justice Thipsay directed Khan to seek the court’s permission before travelling abroad.
Soon after the High Court’s order, a visibly relieved Salman, dressed in casuals and sporting sun glasses, left his Bandra residence for the sessions court in the Fort area of south Mumbai to execute the fresh bail bond.
Jubilant fans and well-wishers, who had gathered outside his residence since morning, erupted in joy when the news reached them.
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