Prosecution must discharge its burden of proving the case beyond reasonable doubt

Bombay High Court : Allowing an appeal preferred against the trial court verdict, A.R. Joshi, J., acquitted film star Salman Khan of all the criminal charges, and held that the prosecution failed to discharge its burden of proving the charges beyond reasonable doubt. The appellant was alleged to have run his car, under the influence of alcohol, over a group of persons sleeping on the footpath on 28th September, 2002. Earlier, the Trial Court had found him guilty of various offences under the Penal Code, 1860 including causing death by negligence against which the present appeal was preferred.

After persual of the arguments, the Court held that prima facie the case cannot be entertained on its merit due to lack of substantial evidence and failure of the prosecution to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. The Court stated that the report brought by the prosecution for the intoxication of the appellant, did not match the standard of proof required for establishing the charges.  The Court also observed that there were shortcomings in terms of not recording evidence of necessary witnesses, and omissions and contradictions of injured witnesses which raised doubts on the offences the accused has been charged with.

The Court observed that it shall not be swayed by any popular belief that a particular person considering his avocation, must have committed such an offence and must be held guilty and that it was impervious to pressure from the public and media. [Salman Khan v State of Maharashtra, 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 6096, decided on 10-12-2015]

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