A Mumbai court on Thursday referred actor Saif Ali Khan and an NRI businessman to a mediation centre in an assault case dating from 2012, NDTV reports. The actor, who is accused of having punched the businessman, was in court for the hearing which had been scheduled for April 6 but was deferred because Khan was filming and unable to appear. The next hearing is on July 27.
Saif’s lawyer, Girish Kulkarni, said in a statement, “It is a compoundable aspect under section 325, mediation is permissible with the permission of the court. That is why the court suggested it. Saif is ready, the Public Prosecutor has suggested the same to Iqbal.” Khan allegedly punched South African businessman Iqbal Sharma at Wasabi, the restaurant at Mumbai’s Taj Hotel, in February 2012. The actor was at the eatery having dinner with his now-wife Kareena Kapoor, her sister Karisma Kapoor, actors Malaika Arora Khan, Amrita Arora and Amrita’s husband Shakeel Ladak.
Sharma alleges that Khan assaulted him after he asked the actor’s group to be quieter. Saif Ali Khan, 44, claims that he was provoked by Sharma who allegedly used abusive language against the women in the dinner group, which led to the scuffle.
In March, after a complaint by an RTI activist, the Union Home Ministry asked the Mumbai Police to expedite the report on the alleged brawl which had been pending for the last seven months. The activist, Subhash Agrawal, had demanded that the Home Ministry take back Saif Ali Khan’s Padma Shri, which he received in 2010.
Khan’s next movie Phantom, co-starring Katrina Kaif, releases this August.