The Supreme Court on September 26 declined to revive a criminal case against Shah Rukh Khan for allegedly triggering a melee at Baroda railway station in 2017 while promoting his Raees, during which a man died of a heart attack. It observed that celebrities had rights like all other citizens and could not be made vicariously culpable.

“What was the fault of this man (Shah Rukh Khan)? Just because he is a celebrity, it doesn’t mean, he has no rights,” the bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and C.T. Ravi Kumar observed while affirming the Gujarat high court order that quashed the criminal case against the actor in April this year. The apex court said that Khan could not be expected to ensure everyone’s safety or provide personal guarantee while travelling by train. “If somebody travels by train, there is no personal guarantee. A celebrity has equal rights like every other citizen of the country,” the bench emphasised. It added, “He (SRK) is a celebrity but that doesn’t mean, he can control everyone else.”

It may be recalled that a huge crowd had gathered at the Baroda railway station on January 23, 2017, upon the arrival of the August Kranti Express in which Shah Rukh was travelling to promote the film. Fareed Khan Pathan, a local politician, suffered a heart attack at the railway station during the stampede-like situation caused by the people eager to catch a glimpse of the actor. A few others were injured in the incident as the actor reportedly threw smiley balls and T-shirts at the crowd on the platform, as part of the promotion campaign. Later that year, a Baroda magistrate court issued summons to the actor based on the complaint of Congress leader Jitendra Solanki who pressed for lodging an FIR against Shah Rukh. The local court issued Khan summons after noting that there was sufficient ground for proceedings against him under sections 336, 337 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly committing acts endangering the life or personal safety of others and causing simple and grievous hurt to them by such acts.

However, the Gujarat high court in April this year quashed the criminal case, holding that Khan could neither be held guilty of criminal negligence nor could it be said that his acts were the exact cause of the incident. The high court also pointed out that Shah Rukh had the administration’s permission to promote the film in the manner he did.

On September 26, Jitendra Solanki’s lawyer contended in the apex court that the high court had turned the criminal jurisprudence “upside down” by watering down the charges against Khan despite acknowledging that the actor was reckless. The SC bench, however, questioned the “personal interest” which Solanki was taking to doggedly pursue the case and asked him to rest the matter. The bench then dismissed his appeal.