Actor Salman Khan will have to spend another night at Jodhpur Central Jail as a sessions court on Friday reserved the hearing on his bail till Saturday. The court has sought a detailed report from the lower court on the 1998 blackbuck poaching case, in which the actor has been convicted and sentenced to five years of imprisonment.
The court heard the arguments on the suspension of the sentence and bail application before deferring the matter until tomorrow. In his arguments, Salman Khan’s counsel Mahesh Bora pointed out various loopholes in the probe. He argued that no investigation in any of the cases of poaching proved that Salman used firearms. “We have argued that the eyewitness in the case was not reliable,” he said.
Prior to the hearing, Bora claimed to have received threat calls and messages, warning him not to appear for the bail hearing. “On Friday, I got SMSes and internet calls, warning me not to appear for Salman Khan’s bail hearing today,” he told news agency ANI.
On Friday, the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (Jodhpur Rural) Dev Kumar Khatri found the actor guilty of killing two blackbucks in Kankani village, near Jodhpur, during the shooting of Bollywood movie “Hum Saath Saath Hain”. Salman was convicted under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Besides the jail term, he was also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000.
The actor was kept in a cell amid tight security. “Salman Khan has been given number 106 and is lodged in Ward number 2. He was made to undergo a medical test and has no medical issues. He hasn’t made any demands. We will give him jail uniform tomorrow. Multiple-layer security has been put up for his ward,” Vikram Singh, Jodhpur DIG (Jail), had said.
According to the prosecution, on the night of October 1, 1998, Khan was in a Gypsy with his costars Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam and Tabu when he killed two blackbuck in Kankani village. The actors were shooting for the film, Hum Saath Saath Hain, in the area. However, Hastimal Saraswat, who appeared for Khan, said no bullets were found when the Gypsy was searched for the first time.
“We have appealed against his conviction and have also applied for bail. We had argued that when the Gypsy in question was searched for the first time, bullets weren’t recovered and only bloodstains were found. The bullets were recovered after a few days when the vehicle was searched once again,” said Saraswat.
In a statement issued later in the day, the actor’s lawyer, Anand Desai, said: “We respect the decision of the Hon’ble Court. While we are studying the judgment, it just came as a surprise, as the entire investigation and facts of this case were the same as those for which Salman has been acquitted by the Hon’ble High Court of Rajasthan in two cases, and even by the Hon’ble CJM in the Arms Act matter for the alleged offence on the very same night as is the subject matter of the present case,” Khan’s lawyer, Anand Desai, said in a statement on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the remaining co-accused in the case – actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam and Tabu – and Dushyant Singh, a resident of the area, were acquitted by the court. The seventh accused, Dinesh Gawre, is absconding.