Salman Khan Gets 5-Year Jail Time In 20 Years Old Blackbuck Poaching Case
[Update: Earlier reports suggested that Salman Khan was awarded 2 years jail time. The title of the article has been updated accordingly.]
Salman Khan has been convicted by a Jodhpur trial court in the two-decade-old blackbuck poaching case. The 52-year-old actor was found guilty of killing two blackbucks in 1998 while working on the film ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’. His co-stars – Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam – were co-accused in the case, but have been acquitted.
The blackbuck is an endangered species and is protected under the Indian Wildlife Act. Members of the Bishnoi community, passionate about protecting these animals, were witnesses to Salman hunting the blackbucks while the three actresses clapped.
“He would then slit the deer’s throat, clean his hands, and the others would cover the blood with sand,” India Today quoted the driver of Salman’s Gypsy in a 1998 article.
Last year, a Jodhpur court had acquitted Khan by giving him benefit of the doubt. In 2016, the Rajasthan High Court had acquitted the actor in the same case, citing weak circumstantial evidence. Hence, given the benefit of the doubt.
The recent verdict comes after hearings concluded on March 28. Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved the judgment for April 5.
Khan has been charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Maximum punishment under the Section is six years. The actor has got five-year jail time. If the quantum of punishment had been less than three years, the actor’s lawyers could have approached for bail on the same day. He is also charged with Rs 50,000 fine.
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) April 5, 2018
“All of them (Salman and his accused co-stars) were in a Gypsy car that night, with Salman Khan in the driving seat. He, on spotting a herd of blackbucks, shot and killed two of them,” Public Prosecutor Bhawani Singh Bhati had said, reported The Quint.
Khan’s counsel has maintained innocence and claimed the case has several loopholes.
A case against Salman Khan was first registered on October 2, 1998. In 2006, he was convicted and spent a week in jail for a 5-year term. He was granted bail on April 10. On August 31, Rajasthan court suspended the sentence but ordered the actor to not leave the country without permission.
In July 2016, Rajasthan HC acquitted Khan, citing no evidence was found to prove the animals were shot by the actor’s licensed gun. In November, he was issued a notice by the Supreme Court on an appeal by the Rajasthan government challenging his acquittal, reports NDTV.