That we call it this time – confidence or something else – that was certainly not there in May this year – when the trial court had found him guilty in the 2002 hit and run case – and had sentenced him for five years. After the trial court sentenced him, he got bail on the same day from the Bombay High Court.

And it is expected that the Bombay High Court will deliver its verdict today on the Salman Khan’s appeal against the trial court order. Reports say the judge has dictated the order and will read it out today once Salman Khan reaches the court.

And Salman Khamn looks cool because there are indications that what may come out in the verdict will be great relief for the actor. During the course of dictating his order, the judge said, (as reports say) – “prosecution has failed to prove charges against Khan on all counts”.

Let’s see what happens next, later in the day.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


The Supreme Court of India’s verdict on the ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission’ Bill (NJAC Bill) was the most important development in the recent policymaking history of India.

And so, rightly, the nation was hooked to it.

The Indian society is going through a deep distress these days and the widespread corruption eating into every wing of social sphere – including political, administration and business – is responsible for it.

And corruption afflicts Indian judiciary in the same way.

But it is equally true as well that Indian Judiciary, especially its top echelons, have proved out to be the only hope for the ordinary folks – and it has happened multiple times.

Many a times, judicial activism (or judicial machinery) has presented itself as the only option in a seemingly barren land infested with political contradictions, U-turns and insensitivities – at each level of social weaving.

And more importantly, and pleasing to ears of masses, courts have kept in check and controlled many controversial politicians and political diktats.

Politicians, a breed that is supposed to be the pillar of the most important institutions in a democracy – its legislative units – in every constituent of the Federation – has become synonymous with insensitivity and apathy in India.

And if it has become so, politicians need to think about it, because now is the time.

‘Now’ is the time because the electorate opting out for newcomers like Arvind Kejriwal or supporting anti-corruption and anti-administration movements in huge numbers tells people are desperate now – after being shown mirages and ‘plane doors’ since 1947.

People elect them because they have to. They are short of alternatives. Arvind Kejriwal and AAP, though proved futile experiments, were seen as an alternative.

It is this ‘common perception’ about politicians that made not even a leave rustle when the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court of India rejected the NJAC Bill basing its judgement on the premise that it would again introduce political interference in the judicial appointments process.

Politicians from legislatures have their own logics and the courts have their own. The debate on the ‘judicial appointments process’ is yet to precipitate and is wide open – though it may not see any spark in the immediate run – in the prevailing political circumstances.

Arun Jaitley expressed his ‘personal outrage’ on the Supreme Court’s verdict through a Facebook post. He has used some tough words, “Having stated this, the majority transgresses into an erroneous logic. – The Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected and if the elected are undermined, democracy itself would be in danger. – The Supreme Court opinion is final. It is not infallible.”

Arun Jaitley is a senior lawyer, politician and minister and he has his own reasons to questions the NJAC verdict by the Supreme Court but he doesn’t need to go far to see the ‘reason’ why there were no pinning questions from activists, civil society organizations, columnists and even from the political class at large when the top court rejected the 99th Constitution Amendment and struck down the Bill to establish the ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission’.

It is in the same Facebook post only, though in a different context. He writes, “Politician bashing is the key to the judgement.” He further writes while explaining his reasoning, “..but to rubbish all other basic structures by referring to them as “politicians” and passing the judgement on a rationale that India’s democracy has to be saved from its elected representatives.”

Though Arun Jaitley has used terms like ‘politician bashing’ or the ‘statement’ above in the context of the Supreme Court’s NJAC verdict, the phenomenon is quite common among the masses. India is a land of countless public debates, propped up well by multitudes of ‘tea and paan’ stalls dotting every habitable inch of the country, public meetings and daily informal gatherings and ‘politics and politician bashing’ is the favourite theme at most of the places.

‘Politician bashing’ may or may not be behind the ‘rationale’ of the NJAC verdict by the Supreme Court but the ‘overall negative perception about the country’s political class’ was certainly the reason if the verdict didn’t see protests – and if politicians can, they need to think about this ‘negative image’ before anything.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


No doubt Salman Khan of the day is a good man and what we are seeing of him today, especially in context of the court cases, is basically about his survival instinct.

He has changed over the years, especially in last decade. What he did in the ‘hit and run’ case today and what he is doing in other cases he is embroiled in can be seen from the perspective of a worldly man.

He has every right to defend himself and it is responsibility of the judicial system to find him guilty or innocent, in a larger system that is so prone to manipulation. He will keep on saying he is innocent even if the courts think otherwise. And most of the people do so.

He has done what most people do. While writing this, we go with the fact that exceptions are found in every walk of life.

Yes, his celebrity status that makes him dear to millions, an icon of them, an icon whose popularity goes beyond India, is also a hindrance when it comes to such cases, especially in lower courts.

Justice walks a tightrope in such cases and judges deliver the verdict to meet the rulebooks and avoid harsh comments of authorities and senior judges from higher courts.

So, everyone is playing according to the tune here. And by doing so, everyone is being pragmatic – trying to survive in the system. The man on the street whom people like Abhijit call ‘dogs’ in a mad vein or people like Abhijit themselves or celebrities like Salman Khan – all are parts of the system.

System tests them all the time and celebrities like Salman Khan or people like Abhijit possess best of the survival skills while people like the common men (including the street dwellers) are at its bottom. They always try but seldom succeed.

But at the moment, this celebrity status is proving a bane for Salman Khan.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


In a 2002 hit and run case, Salman Khan was today sentenced to 5 years in jail. The court, based on evidences before it, found he was driving the car, and was drunk and was not carrying his licence.

The survivors of the case do not want him to be punished, and so are millions others, including those from the film industry. Yes, the workers want more money to live on. They want more compensation, beyond the odd 19 lakh that Salman deposited with the Bandra court in 2002. But the court has ruled out so, even if Salman is willing to pay them more for a lesser sentence.

We can easily say this a triumph of justice in the lower courts – given the fact that Puru Raajkumar was let off with fine of Rs. 1 Lakh only, even if he killed 3 and injured 2 in his drunken state – way back in 1993.

Sanjeev Nanda, in the notorious 1999 BMW hit and run case of Delhi, killed 6, but he was imprisoned 2 years only. The Supreme Court added 2 more years of community service in 2012. 2 years of imprisonment were after public outage. He was acquitted and released in 1999 but was forced for a re-trial in 2008.

Another hit and run case that made headlines took place in Mumbai in 2006. Alistair Pereira, coming a family of realtors, killed 7 and injured 8 when his drunken stupor lost every sense and his Toyota Corolla rammed into a group of people. He was sentenced for 3 years only. Supreme Court, while upholding the order, said as the state government had not sought a tougher punishment more than three years, it was unable to do so.

From that measure, Salman has got a harsh punishment of five years – for killing 1, injuring 3 and crippling 1. And he is ready to give more compensation.

Though the Bombay High Court has granted him interim bail for 2 days, as the complete order copy is yet to be given, the trial court had not any option.

In fact, the verdict given today is a balanced one after he was slapped again with the culpable homicide charge that attracted a punishment of up to 10 years. A trial court judge has limited options in case of serious charges and when a case involves a celebrity like Salman Khan, in becomes talk of the town, including the higher courts and to judge wants scathing remarks on his verdict from a higher court judge. The case was in limelight anyway and it got some undue negative social media publicity when Salman’s driver Ashok Singh tried to claim the blame on him (March 30, 2015). Ashok Singh had made similar attempt in 2007.

Sessions court had to sentence Salman. Supreme Court had observed in the past that the accused could not get benefit of procedural lapses. So even if the witnesses turned hostile, Salman could not prove that he was not driving, that he was not without license, and that he was not drunk. The Sessions’ court judge found him guilty of all charges and chose to sentence him for 5 years.

It is harsh given by the cases above. It is not harsh given by the fact that everyone is equal before the law.

Higher courts’ response is to be seen in this case now with a balanced judgment by the Sessions court.

The Bombay High Court would hear Salman’s bail plea on Friday once the order is in. In case of Sanjeev Nanda, the final Supreme Court order came after 13 years. Salman’s hit and run case has already dragged for 13 years. Hopefully it will not be dragged on for many more months and the Bombay High Court will hear the appeal in a time-bound manner.

And obviously, we would keep on asking ‘if everyone is equal before the law!’

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –