Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan who was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri award from the Indian government in 2010 for contributions in the field of art, is back in the midst of controversy. On March 14 this year, RTI activist SC Agrawal had filed a complaint with the Union Home Ministry demanding that Saif be stripped of the award for assaulting customers at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai in 2012. On August 6, 2014, reports came in that the government was considering stripping Khan of the award.
In the 2012 incident in question, Khan was reportedly dining with actresses Amrita Arora, Kareena Kapoor and friends at the Wasabi Restaurant in the Taj Hotel when guests at the nearby table complained that they were creating a din. Though the restaurant management requested Khan to calm down, he apparently did not accede to the request and allegedly assaulted the complainants Iqbal Sharma, a South African businessman and an elderly man. Khan was arrested under Section 325 of the Indian Penal Code but was released on a surety of Rs 3000. Khan claimed that he had acted in self-defence and filed a case leveling counter allegations, which was not accepted by the Mumbai Police. Subsequently though, a Mumbai court framed charges against Khan on March 13, 2014 and issued summons on July 18, 2014.
This is not the first time the actor has courted controversy. Khan has several criminal cases against him, particularly for assault.
1) In 1994, Saif allegedly bashed up Kanan Divecha, the assistant editor of film magazine Star and Style, after the magazine published an article about Saif's then wife Amrita Singh's alleged affair with a top film star. After much dilly-dallying by the Mumbai police, the High Court ordered Saif and Amrita Singh to settle the issue with the magazine out of court, and apologise, which they did in 1999.
2) In 1995, gay rights activist Ashok Row Kavi claimed that Saif Ali Khan beat him up inside his house in Santacruz in 1995. Kavi claimed that Saif Ali Khan assaulted his mother too, who fell down from his attack. The issue, according to Kavi, was that the magazine Bombay Dost had reviewed the movie Main Khiladi Tu Anadi calling it a gay movie. The magazine had also reportedly mocked Saif's mother Sharmila Tagore.
3) In 1998, Khan was charged with poaching two black bucks in Kankani during the filming of the movie Hum Saath Saath Hain along with co-stars Salman Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam. A lower court charged him including the others under the Wildlife Act and the Indian Penal Code. Thereafter, Saif filed a revision petition before a sessions court, which soon discharged him of Section 51 (causing harm to wildlife) of Wildlife Act, Section 147 (punishment for rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly of persons) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Rajasthan state government then filed a revision petition before the Rajasthan high court which again added Section 149 against Khan. The Jodhpur court summoned him along with all the accused for commencement of the trial with the revised charges in February 2013.
4) In 2008, while filming for the Bollywood movie Love Aaj Kal, Khan allegedly assaulted a photographer named Pawan Sharma at Patiala railway station.
5) In March 2013, Saif Ali Khan was again in the news for assault. Reportedly, Saif was asked to vacate the VIP lounge of the Chowdhary Charan Singh airport in Lucknow as he was not entitled to the facilities. Saif allegedly refused to follow the instructions and started arguing. This reportedly led to a bitter fight with the security guards. The brawl came to an end with the intervention of senior officials of the airport.