The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with the Gujarat High Court order quashing a criminal complaint against actor Shah Rukh Khan for allegedly causing a stampede that led to a man’s death during the promotion of his film.
Dismissed by a bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and C T Ravikumar, the plea challenging the HC order had been filed by the complainant, Madhubhai Solanki.
In January 2017, Khan and his team were travelling from Mumbai to Delhi by August Kranti Express to promote his film ‘Raees’. According to Solanki’s complaint filed before the Magistrate’s court, Khan threw smiley soft balls, T-shirts and goggles at the crowd that had gathered at Vadodara station to see him, resulting in a stampede.
The Magistrate court issued summons to Khan following which he approached the HC.
In its April 2022 order, the HC said Khan’s act of waving, throwing T-shirts and smiley balls at the Vadodara station while promoting a movie cannot be termed acts of “high degree of negligence” and “recklessness”.
“The act on part of (Khan)… may have led to some of the members of the crowd getting excited but… such acts could not be stated to be consisting of a very high degree of negligence or recklessness… Furthermore the petitioner (Khan)… being an actor was promoting his upcoming movie… none of the said act could be termed as having any element of mens rea, which is an essential element to hold negligence as being an offence.”
Relying on the inquiry report that was submitted before a Vadodara magisterial court, the HC also noted that “there may be other intervening circumstances which had led to some unruly incident at the railway station”.
The court recorded that the train stopped in such a way that the compartment in which Khan was travelling was near the platform stairs, where space was narrow.
The court also observed that to control the unruly sections, police had to use force. Two international cricketers had also come to the railway station to meet Khan, which further resulted in the crowd getting out of control.
“It also appears that the train, after its scheduled stop, had started moving when some persons in the crowd started to move out of the platform… the train stopped all of a sudden, which led to some sections of the crowd pushing to go back towards the train, which also appears to have led to some unruly scenes,” the HC judgment noted.
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