The Rajasthan High Court today acquitted Bollywood actor Salman Khan in the 1998 Blackbuck and Chinkara poaching cases. The verdict was pronounced by Justice Nirmaljeet Kaur of Jodhpur principal seat of High Court.
The court held the case was based on weak circumstantial evidence and the prime witness — the driver of Khan and his co-stars’ jeep for the alleged hunt — was missing. Hence, the actor was reportedly given the benefit of the doubt.
The verdict comes after the actor had challenged the lower court’s decision that awarded him a five-year sentence and a one-year sentence in two separate cases of poaching.
In 2007, Mr Khan spent a week in jail in Jodhpur before being granted bail. The Rajasthan government, however, is likely to challenge the order and appeal to the Supreme Court.
A police complaint was lodged Oct 2, 1998, by the Bishnoi community, against Salman Khan and the others for hunting Blackbuck deer on the midnight of Sep 28, 1998, within the limits of Mathania village. The act was carried out while Salman was there for the filming of the movie “Hum Saath Saath Hain” in Rajasthan.
The case under the Arms Act was registered with Luni Police station in Jodhpur as the Forest Department of Rajasthan alleged that the arms used by the actor during the poaching incident had expired licences and so he used them illegally.
The Dabangg actor is currently stuck in a sticky wicket due to his face-off with the National Women’s Commission, after sparking a controversy by saying that his training for the role as a wrestler in his blockbuster new film, Sultan, left him feeling “like a raped woman.” Salman has not offered an apology for his statement.
Last year, the actor also got acquitted of the hit-and-run case in which he was accused of running over homeless men while drunk driving on the streets of Mumbai. The Maharashtra government also challenged his acquittal in the Supreme Court.