There is cheer among Salman Khan Fans as the actor got acquittal in the 2002 hit-and-run case. Social media is rife with posts about how justice in India is a toy in the hands of the affluent and everyone, except the numerous fans, is casting a shadow of doubt on the star’s innocence and blaming the judiciary for justice delayed and then delivered in a manner which the masses are not able to unanimously come to terms with
Now, there are two case scenarios here.
The first is that he is not innocent and has yet been acquitted. To think that a person may go scot free after such a grave offence (cite Salman khan hit-and-run case 2002) just because he is a wealthy celebrity is a mockery of our judicial system.
So, are we saying the judiciary has been misled into believing that Salman is innocent?
How can a group of people having special qualifications to ascertain offensive liability be misled by a few who only have access to unlimited cash?
So, are we then saying that law in our country can actually be bought? Then what about the various other cases involving stalwarts such as Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata and corporations such as Vodafone? Are all their cases fraudulently resolved? I’m citing these cases because they were all represented by the very talented Mr. Harish Salve, the counsel of choice for corporate bigwigs, celebrities and politicians. One can now say that it is the lawyer who turned the case in Salman’s favour and the court saw only what it was shown. This in turn implies that the services of a lawyer (and a very good one at that) can be bought but not the whole judicial system. Then again, I ask myself and urge you to give the whole situation a second thought, had one of your own; your father, your brother or husband or any other relative or friend for that matter, been involved in a same or similar situation, would you not have tried your level best to save them any discomfort? Or would you have handed them over without any attempt to save them the wrath of our lockups and jails? Accidents happen and people regret such rash actions and even sulk in remorse, but that is not enough. What is done is done and cannot be reversed. If a life is lost it cannot be regained. It is up to the law makers to decide whether a person is responsible for negligent action and the circumstances involving the actual happening and the rightful punishment if applicable. I say even if Salman did actually drive and ram his SUV, he has the right to counsel just as he would have had the duty to attempt any rescue that fateful night. Come to think of it, would we even be talking about this matter if it involved anybody other than ‘the’ Salman Khan?
The second is that Salman Khan is indeed innocent and hence he is now acquitted after an agonizing thirteen years. In these years there is no count of the mental and social harassment he might have faced apart from the brutal media coverage which has been hounding him ever since. He was never at the wheel and was not drunk (or so some would like to believe) yet, he was asked to attend hearings in which various parties (namely the police guard Ravindra Patil and the family driver Ashok Singh) changed their statements numerous times. A person who is not at fault should be compensated by the judiciary on account of mental, social and emotion torture if not on any other grounds. People have almost forgotten singer/actor Kamal Khan who was also present in the vehicle at the time its tyre burst and it spun out of control ramming onto the pavement dwellers sleeping at the road side. Oh wait, the court of law will not accept his witness as he is not an Indian national (or some other vague reason like that). Now come on, this could happen to anybody. Car tyres cannot be controlled and they may burst without prior notice and any of you who are a driver can very well understand that a car with a burst tyre has a mind of its own and can never be controlled completely, no matter what mind control techniques you apply. So, whoever the miserable driver was on that fateful night, it’s not the poor guys fault.
This again reminds me of a personal mishap from when I was younger. I was riding my bike fast, as I was already late for wherever I was going, and then suddenly a buffalo ran out of the divider on the main city road, and before I could think and react….Bang! I lay there in seething pain while the animal simply ran away onto the overgrown buffer grounds. I suffered a ruptured ligament in my knee and didn’t even receive any compensation from the owner of the errant buffalo. A Buffalo!? On a main road in the city? It does not belong there! Okay I should have not been speeding, you could even preach on the notion of start early-reach early, blah blah. That day I realized that while riding or driving in our country you can NOT ‘only’ do ‘that’, you have to look around for kids playing, vendors selling their wares, beggars, stray cattle and sometimes people who are sleeping on the pavement! A lesson learnt in time.
Mumbai ranks number one on the list of cities that witness hit-and-run cases, followed by Bengaluru and Pune coming in a close third. I’m surprised that the national capital doesn’t get ranked in the first three places. A hit-and-run case is officially defined as a scenario wherein a person causes accidental or willful damage and escapes before being discovered, or damage caused in this way. Here is a matter for some debate; I once hit another passing car while reversing out of a parking slot (and believe me, I was dead slow) and within seconds I was surrounded by at least a dozen men shouting and saying things which were totally out of context, none of them knew who was at fault for ramming the vehicles, yet they were are shouting in tandem and then that day in 2002, there was Salman Khan, being the celebrity he is, do you think people would have let him as much as breathe had he stayed at the accident spot for a little more time than he did, even if was 2.45 a.m.!? So, I say people saw and assessed he was not at fault and therefore let him run away from the spot. I think the truth and the absolute truth can be told by only four people one of whom is now dead.
Like they say, there are always three versions to a story, my story, your story and the Truth. All of us can rejoice or rage on, the fact remains that a person died on September 28, 2002 and another lived under the shadow of death for 13 years before he could call himself not guilty. He even says that his personal life has ever since been in the doldrums to the extent that he never got married in anticipation of a verdict which if unfavorable would have put his spouse in an unpleasant situation.
Whatever the truth is, at least the actor and his crazy fan following can breathe easy in the meantime till the verdict for the case involving him in the poaching of two chinkaras (in Bhawad area of Jodhpur on September 26-27, 1998, while shooting for the film “Hum Saath Saath Hain”) is announced.