The Bombay High Court today stayed till May 5 the summons issued to Salman Khan by a lower court in connection with the alleged misbehaviour with a journalist in 2019 while a magistrate's court exempted him from personal appearance in the same case till May 9.

A court had last month issued process (summons) to Salman and his bodyguard Nawaz Shaikh and directed them to appear before it on April 5.

Today, Salman's lawyers filed an application before the magistrate's court seeking exemption from appearance. The Magistrate's Court granted the exemption and posted the matter for hearing on May 9.

Salman had approached the Bombay High Court challenging the process (summons) issued to him by the lower court.

Today a single Bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere directed the complainant (journalist Ashok Pandey) to file an affidavit in reply to the actor's plea challenging the lower court order issuing process and seeking to quash the proceedings.

"The proceedings (in the lower court) with regard to the applicant (Salman Khan) is stayed," Justice Dere said while posting the plea for further hearing on May 5.

Pandey had alleged that in April 2019, Salman and his bodyguard Nawaz Shaikj had abused and assaulted him for filming the actor while he was cycling on the road.

Salman's counsel, Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda on today told the High Court that there were contradictions and improvisations in Pandey's complaint letter to the police, sent on April 24, 2019, when the alleged incident occurred, and the private complaint filed by him before the magistrate's court in June 2019.

"In the complaint letter to the police, there is no allegation against the applicant (Salman). But in the private complaint to the magistrate, there are improvisations and he (Pandey) says the applicant abused and assaulted him," Ponda said.

He stated that Salman had not said a word to Pandey. If the allegation is against Salman's bodyguard then the proceedings may go on against him, Ponda said.

Justice Dere then sought to know from Advocate Ejaz Naqvi, who appeared for Pandey, why the allegations of assault were not mentioned in the police complaint letter.

"You (Pandey) are a journalist. If someone had assaulted you, you would have not kept quiet. It would have reflected in the complaint letter to the police," Justice Dere said.

Pandey had filed a private complaint before the magistrate's court seeking criminal action to be initiated against Salman Khan and Shaikh.

Metropolitan Magistrate R R Khan had on March 23 issued process to Salman and Shaikh after noting that a police report submitted in the matter stated that offences under Indian Penal Code Sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) are made out against the accused persons.

Pandey had alleged that the actor had snatched his mobile phone while cycling on a Mumbai street when some media persons started clicking his photos. The actor had allegedly entered into an argument and threatened him, Pandey said in his complaint.

The Magistrate's Court had earlier directed the D N Nagar police here to conduct an inquiry and submit a report.

After perusing the report, the court held that there were sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused persons.

The issuance of a process marks the beginning of criminal proceedings before a metropolitan or judicial magistrate based on a complaint lodged by an individual.

The Magistrate's Court issues the process if it finds prima facie substance in the allegations made in the complaint.

Once the process is issued, the accused persons have to appear before the Court.

With PTI inputs