The Salman Verdict- And Our Delayed Judicial System

The verdict is out. Celebrated Bollywood actor Salman Khan has been convicted in the 2002 Hit and Run Case, which claimed one life and injured a few others. After a 13 year long trial, the Mumbai sessions court today handed down a 5 year jail sentence to the actor. He was charged under IPC Sections 304 part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), which typically stipulates 10 years in jail.

The incident occurred when the actor in a drunken state drove his Land Cruiser into a group of homeless men sleeping on the pavement in suburban Mumbai. He however rejected this claim in court, and said his driver was to blame. Salman’s lawyers fought against his conviction, seeking the least amount of imprisonment, stating the fact that Salman is involved in many a humanitarian acts. His NGO Being Human has been financially aiding the poor for a few years now.

The court however decided to give him half of this stipulation, with five years (it included charges under other sections too, of drunken driving). It was an exemplary punishment to set an example for others. Salman probably would have wished he wasn’t a celebrity, today.

Begum Shaikh, the wife of the victim Nurulah Mahbob Sharif, said she had been waiting a long time for justice, adding: “We have gone through a lot of hardships.” “Everything is so expensive and we hardly have any income. My kids are always under stress,” she told the CNN-IBN channel.

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But yes. I am proud of the judiciary system today. It sent out a message loud and clear that no one is above the law. We are not a soft country and we do make judgements and deliver justice. What really still irks me is the delay in our justice system. Why do we need 13 years to convict Salman Khan in a hit and run case? Why is there still a delay in many other cases where people are awaiting justice? It is time the country had a jury trial system that would complete cases in less than a year. A jury trial or trial by jury is a legal proceeding in which a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact, which then direct the actions of a judge. It is distinguished from a bench trial, in which a judge or panel of judges make all decisions.

But for now Salman would head to the Arthur road Jail, before he could file any bail appeal at the high court. Khan has become the second big-name Bollywood actor to be imprisoned in the past two years. Sanjay Dutt, star of a series of gangster movies, was jailed for possession of weapons that were linked to several bombings in Mumbai in 1993.

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