Blackbuck poaching case: Salman Khan convicted, sentenced to 5 years jail term
A Jodhpur Court on Thursday (April 5) convicted Bollywood actor Salman Khan in the blackbuck poaching case and awarded him 5 years jail term. A fine of Rs 10,000 has also been levied on the actor. Bollywood actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam, who were the co-accused in the case, have been acquitted. Khan and other actors were accused of poaching blackbucks on the midnight of October 1-2, 1998 during the filming of the Hindi movie Hum Saath Saath Hain.
Had the jail term been below 3 years, Salman would have been eligible for bail by Sessions Court. But now he would have to approach the High Court for bail. So, in all probability, Salman will have to spend a this night in jail.
"Conviction has been done but the quantum of punishment has not been pronounced yet. Court has reserved the order, maximum punishment of 6 years demanded," media reports quoted prosecution lawyer as saying.
Salman Khan was charged in two separate cases, one for poaching and the other for offences under the Arms Act. Blackbucks are among the endangered animals listed in the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972, and cannot be hunted. Hunting them is a criminal offence under the Act, and is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.
Final arguments of the case were completed in the trial court on March 28, after which Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved the judgment.
Saif Ali Khan stoked a controversy upon his arrival in Jodhpur when he reportedly said to his driver and asked him to roll up the car's window-panes and reverse. "Quickly roll up the panes and reverse the car, or else I will hit you," he is reported to have said.
Salman was convicted in one of the cases in 2006 and was sentenced to five years in jail. While the actor spent a week in jail, the sentence was suspended by the Rajasthan High Court. The actor was also booked under the Arms Act as the licence of the gun he allegedly used while hunting had expired. However, the charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence.
Meanwhile, heavy police personnel have been deployed outside Jodhpur court ahead of the verdict.
Saif Ali Khan, Neelam and Sonali Bendre's lawyer reportedly said, "If they are found guilty then there is equal punishment for all. Maximum punishment will be for six years and minimum one year."
Salman Khan's lawyer has said that the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond any doubt.
"It even failed to prove that the black bucks were killed by gunshots. Hence, such investigation cannot be trusted," Salman's lawyer HM Saraswat said.
According to the complaint, Salman Khan is accused of killing two black bucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani near Jodhpur on the intervening night of October 1-2, 1998. He was also charged with possessing a weapon with an expired license.
The case also involved two more accused Dushyant Singh, who had allegedly accompanied them during the alleged poaching incident, and Dinesh Gawre, said to be an assistant of Salman Khan.
(OneIndia News with agency inputs)