MUMBAI, Dec 10 - The Bombay High Court today acquitted Salman Khan in the 2002 hit-and-run case, quashing the trial court order convicting and sentencing him for five years, and ruling that the prosecution had failed to prove �beyond reasonable doubt� that the actor was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident and was drunk.
The judgement came on an appeal by the superstar, seven months after he was pronounced guilty by the trial court of running over five people sleeping on a pavement outside a laundry in suburban Bandra with his Toyota Land Cruiser, killing one and causing injury to four others on October 28, 2002.
�The appeal is allowed. The trial court�s verdict is quashed and set aside ... Salman is acquitted of all the charges,� Justice AR Joshi said, reading out the judgement.
�....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 (Salman was driving and was under the influence of alcohol, also, whether the accident occurred due to bursting (of tyre) prior to the incident or tyre burst after the incident ...,� the judge said.
After the verdict was pronounced in a jam-packed courtroom, the 49-year-old actor, overcome with emotions, broke down in full public view before being asked by his long-time bodyguard Shera to turn his face toward the wall so people do not see his tears. A visibly relieved Salman was later seen humming a song as sister Alvira flashed a �Thumbs up� sign.
The judge rejected as �wholly unreliable� the statement of eyewitness Ravindra Patil, former police bodyguard of Salman, recorded by a Magistrate in which he had accused the actor of driving under the influence of liquor. � PTI