Salman Khan rash driving case verdict put off to June 24

Mumbai, June 10 (IANS) A Mumbai sessions court Monday deferred till June 24 the verdict in the appeal filed by Bollywood actor Salman Khan against a magistrate's order in the 2002 hit-and-run case.

Khan had appealed against the magistrate's order directing a retrial of the case under the stringent charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Sessions court judge U.B. Hejib was due to deliver his verdict in the matter Monday.

The arguments in the case concluded in early May, and Khan's lawyer Ashok Mundargi had contended that the lower court's order was "erroneous, bad in law and contrary to evidence on record".

The fresh charge, under Section 304 (III) of the Indian Penal Code, would attract a maximum jail term of 10 years.

Earlier, Khan had been tried under the less severe Section 304A of IPC, relating to causing death by negligence, which stipulates a maximum two years in jail.

However, the metropolitan magistrate, after examining 17 witnesses in the case, had invoked the more serious charge under Section 304 (III) of the IPC against Khan.

Public prosecutor S. Erande had said that its witness, police bodyguard Ravindra Patil, who has since died, had repeatedly warned Khan not to drive rashly, but the actor allegedly did not heed him.

Erande further submitted that Khan was drunk at the time of the incident in which one person was killed and four others injured.

Khan's SUV ran over pavement dwellers in suburban Bandra in the early hours of Sep 28, 2002.

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