Libertatem Magazine

An Objective View of The Salman Khan Hit Aand Run Case – The Dark of The Moon

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The Salman Khan hit and run case has been going on and pending for a long time in the Indian courts. The incident that occurred about 12 years ago, wherein Salman Khan, the  famous Bollywood actor, was driving under the influence of alcohol, late at night and ran his vehicle over four destitute people, who were sleeping on the pavement on the silent roads of Aamchi Mumbai. Three of these were killed on the spot and one was left maimed. The Indian media went full with the claims that the whole trial is like an act in front of the Court wherein Salman Khan’s lawyers have put up vague arguments everyday ranging from absurd at worst to downright nonsensical at best.

One day, the lawyer comes up with an explanation of how the accident was caused as a result of the car falling from a crane on top of these people and crushing them, while a little later, it was claimed that Salman was not in fact behind the wheel while the accident occurred, but it was his driver who caused the accident. There were also reports of how his former bodyguard had stated on record that Salman was in fact the culprit in the case and had consequentially lost his job and left on the streets to die alone and uncared for.  After a long trial before the Sessions Court of Mumbai, it was finally adjudged that Salman Khan was indeed guilty and was to be sentenced for 5 years of imprisonment. However, within 3 days of the sentence Mr. Khan was granted bail by the Court.

Almost the entire Bollywood industry had shown unequivocal support for Salman Khan, and ever since the date of the verdict had been announced, he had been frequently visited by fellow actors and actresses at his Galaxy Towers’ residence. After the verdict was pronounced most of the celebrities immediately took to social media and public forums to express their annoyance at the verdict and heartfelt wishes for the actor. His ardent fans went on mass protests, fasts, and even self-immolation, in order to show their support to their favourite star.

A lot of the people believe that the actor should have been let go off, or sentenced lightly, because of the huge gap between the commission of the offence and the time of sentencing. It was argued that the man has suffered 12 years of constant mental agony and torture, because of the constantly looming threat of a trial and a sentence. It was also argued that since he has been a model citizen since then, and has had no run-ins with law apart from the black buck shooting incident, that his case should be considered on humanitarian grounds and his sentence be revoked.

Another argument that has constantly been brought up is that Salman Khan had already signed contracts for numerous films, and had in fact started shooting also for some of them, and his going to prison right now would mean monetary losses for the makers of these films. It was thus contended that even though these people had not committed any crimes, it would be they who would suffer, monetarily, and hence it is the duty of the law to make sure that innocent people are in no way harmed because of its processes.

However, not the entire India is flowing in one direction for the famous Salman Khan and there are a lot of people, who have expressed extreme displeasure and annoyance with both, the way the trial was conducted, as well as the outcome of the trial.

Now the bone of contention is that even though Salman Khan was found guilty at the end of the trial and was sentenced accordingly, he was granted immediate bail and hence did not have to spend any time in incarceration as punishment for his crimes. The main argument of these people was that had it been any other person he would have been languishing in jails for multiple years in pathetic conditions even before he was afforded the opportunity of a proper trial, and even if he did get one, he would have been sentenced again, and bail would have taken weeks at the least to come by.  However, since the case involved a well-known, well-connected celebrity, he who got to spend and elongated period of 12 years between commission of offence and trial, was out in the world as a free man with no restrictions whatsoever, enjoying his life in the lap of luxury, and even when he did finally get punished for his crime, he was immediately granted bail, making the whole trial an exercise in futility.

What a lot of the people see the Salman Khan trial as is a missed opportunity for the Indian Courts to send out a loud and clear message that no matter the social standing of a person, nobody is above the law and that justice will always be served. What happened instead was a façade of a trial, the outcome of which was that it made no change whatsoever to the life of the accused or the victims, but the courts now have a way of justifying themselves saying that they did their job and convicted him. Thus, the entire trial only served the purpose of clearing the Court’s name as shirkers of responsibility, and providing a legal protection of sorts to Mr. Khan

The Indian Judicial System has always been under great scrutiny from the general public and a greater part of India believes that the judiciary is inefficient at best, and is unable to effectively deal with the multitude of cases, especially the ones involving public figures or famous celebrities. There have been instances in the past where the judiciary has been unable to take any string action against well connected offenders and they have walked away scot free. The need of the hour is thus to set an effective example by successfully prosecuting and punishing a well-connected person to re-instil the faith of the public. That being said, however, does not justify the unjust prosecution and extra punishment to be provided to any celebrity only because an example needs to be set because that would be unjust to him.

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