NOT GUILTY

Salman Khan walks free, but over 6,000 people are killed by drunk drivers in India every year

Quartz india
Quartz india

Salman Khan—the popular Bollywood actor who had been earlier convicted of culpable homicide in a 13-year-old hit-and-run case—was acquitted today by the Bombay high court.

In September 2002, Khan was accused of driving over a group of homeless people who were sleeping on a pavement in Bandra, Mumbai.

“The appeal filed by Salman Salim Khan is allowed. He is acquitted of all charges against him. His conviction and sentence stand quashed,” said Justice A R Joshi on Dec.10. Khan was reportedly moved to tears in the packed courtroom.

Earlier in May, a criminal court in Mumbai had convicted the 49-year-old actor in the incident that left one person dead and four others injured. The lower court had sentenced him to five years in jail. But two days later, the Bombay high court suspended the actor’s jail sentence. Khan’s lawyers had argued that the lower court had not considered all the evidence at hand during the trial. Khan was then granted bail.

In the meantime, 2015 turned out to be the actor’s most successful year in terms of box office earnings, with two back-to-back blockbusters—Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. With a combined total of over Rs500 crore for his two films, Khan became the first Bollywood actor to have surpassed the number in a single year.

Low rate of conviction

In India, hit-and-run cases are far too common. But the conviction rate is very low—mostly because of lack of camera surveillance and eyewitnesses.

In 2014, 366 cases were registered compared to 456 in 2010. And the conviction rate dropped from 17% in 2010 to 4.6% in 2014.

Apart from the hit-and-run cases, India has glaring numbers of cases of roads accidents—and equally glaring numbers of them caused due to drunk driving.

Every year in India, there are over 20,000 cases of drivers causing accidents under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And, over the last decade, at least 6,000 people have been killed every year by drunk drivers.

Overall, more than 130,000 people are killed on India’s deadly roads every year.

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