The actor was accused of killing endangered blackbucks while shooting for a film in Rajasthan two decades back. Four fellow actors were accused of incitement.
New Delhi: A Jodhpur trial court pronounced Thursday that actor Salman Khan was guilty in the 20-year-old blackbuck poaching case against him and four others. He was sentenced to jail for a five-year term and a fine of Rs 10,000 was imposed on the actor, Mahipal Bishnoi, the prosecution counsel, told reporters.
Preparations for sending Salman to the Jodhpur Central jail are in place. His plea for bail will be heard tomorrow.
Salman Khan was accused of shooting dead two blackbucks, an endangered animal, while filming in Rajasthan for the 1999 family drama Hum Saath Saath Hain.
While Salman was convicted under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, his fellow actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam, charged for incitement, have been acquitted by the court.
Two more people were accused of involvement: Dushyant Singh, who allegedly accompanied the actors on the outing, was also acquitted, while Dinesh Gawre, supposedly Salman’s assistant, is said to be on the run.
The episode in question occurred in 1998, at Kankani village near Jodhpur, on the night of 1 October. The next day, local villagers filed a complaint against Salman, who was arrested for hunting but granted bail in five days.
Apart from three cases of poaching, Salman was also charged under the Arms Act.
He has been acquitted in all but one of the cases, but the Rajasthan government has appealed the decisions. He was let off in two of the cases by the Rajasthan high court and the appeals are now pending in the Supreme Court.
Actors arrive in court
The actors arrived at the Jodhpur court Thursday morning for the verdict, amid elaborate security arrangements on the premises.
Ahead of the judgment, public prosecutor Bhawani Singh Bhati said there was sufficient evidence against the actors.
However, H.M. Saraswat, the defence counsel for Salman, said there were “many loopholes in the prosecution’s story” and they had “failed to prove the case beyond any doubt”.
Final arguments of the case were completed in the trial court on March 28, after which Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved his judgment.
Salman Khan was convicted under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
(With PTI inputs)