In a major relief to Bollywood actor Salman Khan, the Bombay High Court has acquitted him of all charges in the 2002 hit-and-run case.
On Thursday, the Bombay High Court said that Salman cannot be convicted on the basis of the evidence produced by the prosecution.
Justice A.R. Joshi announcing the verdict said, "Prosecution failed to establish the charges (against Salman) on all counts". The verdict was announced at around 1.30 pm on Thursday after Salman arrived in the court.
Salman arrived in court wearing a dark-checked shirt and jeans and heard out the verdict. Salman's family members, including his sisters Alvira Khan Agnihotri, Arpita Khan Sharma, father Salim Khan and others were also present in the court.
On Wednesday, the court ruled that the prosecution has failed to prove that Salman was driving the car or was under the influence of alcohol on the night of 22 September, 2002, when the accident took place.
Joshi further said that the court could not rely on the statement of Salman's late bodyguard Ravindra Patil, who was present in the vehicle on 22 September.
"Because of anomalies and discrepancies in his statement, Patil cannot be called 'wholly reliable' as he improved upon this statement from recording of FIR to his supplementary statement (on October 1, 2002) in magistrate's court," the judge said.
"This court has come to the conclusion, that the prosecution has failed to bring material on record to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant-accused (Salman) was driving (the vehicle) and driving under influence of alcohol, and also, whether the accident occurred due to bursting (of tyre) prior to the incident or tyre burst after the incident," Justice Joshi said.
Justice Joshi delivered the verdict in Salman's appeal against the 6 May sessions court verdict.
On 6 May, Additional Sessions Judge D.W. Deshpande convicted Salman in the 2002 hit-and-run case on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sentenced him to five-year jail term.
On the night of 22 September, 2002, Salman's Toyota Land Cruiser rammed on the pavement of the American Express bakery in Bandra. The accident killed one and injured four others.