Thursday, 7 May 2015


12 years have passed since Salman Khan’s Toyota Land Cruiser ran over five labours sleeping on the pavement in Bandra, leaving one dead and others injured. Sessions judge found Salman guilty under eight charges, including Section 304-II of the Indian Penal Code for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and Sections 337 and 338 for rash and negligent driving. He was sentenced to 5 years prison but subsequently the High Court granted bail and Khan is still free and out of prison.
Considering the media hue and cry over the incident with TV channels labelling Khan as a drunkard, a rogue and a hitman, there is little likelihood that Khan will not be lamenting over his decision to take the drive, if indeed he was at the drivers’ seat. Leaving aside the argument whether the sentence pronounced on Khan was too harsh (due to his celebrity status) or the immediate bail that came subsequently (was due to his celebrated status), real fact is that even if 20 years of imprisonment is granted to Khan, it is not going to do any good for the families of those who were killed or injured during the accident.

During the long period of nearly 13 years since Nurullah Mahboob Sharif was killed in the early hours of September 28, 2002, nobody cared what happened to the family of this poor labour. Sharif’s son, Firoz Shaikh, now 25, was still in school when the accident occurred. He had to discontinue his studies, and his mother, Begum Jahan, a housewife till then, had to discontinue his studies, had to start working as a domestic help. Firoz Sheikh rues over the fact that he would have completed his studies if his father was alive. He had to work to support his family and never got a proper job all his life. He works as mason now.

He is of opinion that Salman Khan didn’t kill his father intentionally and his father happened to be the unfortunate victim. Question arises whether our legal system is indeed on the right when its focus remains on punishing the wrong-doer and has no power whatsoever to do anything for the victim. Nobody is talking about the loss – both financial and emotional – that Shaikh family had to undergo.
In such a situation, Islamic system gives the solution of blood-money or khoon-baha. It says that while the judiciary has the power to decide whether the person is indeed the culprit, and if the crime is established, the judiciary will pronounce the judgment but once the punishment is pronounced by the judiciary, it gives the victim the choice of taking blood-money or khoon-baha in lieu of the pronounced punishment.

Suppose Salman Khan had been tried as per the Islamic law, the family of the Nurullah Mahboob Sharif, who do not hold Salman truly guilty even today, had the choice of taking the blood-money from Salman Khan and thus find the solution to the financial problems that that they had to undergo after the death of the sole bread-earner in the family.

Is it true justice that family of Nurullah Mahboob Sharif had to undergo all types of difficulties during the 13 years, while our Court was hearing the case all through this period? Does merely sending Salman Khan to jail will ensure that justice has been done?

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