Film actor Salman Khan has been convicted and jailed for five years in the infamous 1998 black buck poaching case. The Jodhpur city court, in its verdict on Thursday, however, acquitted actors Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Tabu and Sonali Bendre, who faced trial as the co-accused.
The charges under which Salman and others were tried in this case attract six years of jail term. After lengthy argument, which went on till afternoon, the city court sentenced Salman for five years in jail.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and ouside the court premises ahead of the verdict as all the actors had already arrived in the city.
Final arguments in the case were completed in the trial court on March 28, after which Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved the judgment to be pronounced on April 5.
Salman Khan faced trial under the charges of Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, while other actors faced trial charged under Section 51 read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.
The actors are accused of hunting down two black bucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani in village Kankani near Jodhpur on the intervening night of October 1 and 2, 1998. The actors were in the city for the shooting of the film ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’.
Public Prosecutor Bhawani Singh Bhati said there was sufficient evidence against the actors.
Refuting these allegations, HM Saraswat, the defence counsel for Salman Khan, said there are many loopholes in the prosecution’s story and the prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond any doubt.
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.
(With inputs from PTI)