Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was sentenced to five years of imprisonment by a court here on Thursday in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case, while the other four co-accused stars -- Sonali Bendre, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu and Neelam -- were acquitted of all charges. A penalty of Rs 10,000 has also been levied on him.Salman, 52, was found guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 for killing two blackbucks, an endangered species, hunting of which is prohibited by law. The incident took place in Kankani village near Jodhpur on October 1-2, 1998, during the shooting of Bollywood film "Hum Saath Saath Hain".
Filmmaker Anil Sharma expressed grief over Salman Khan's verdict. "It is a sad moment. He is a strong person. We all are with him in this difficult time", he said to India TV.
The Tiger Zinda Hai actor is being taken to Jodhpur Central Jail. If the sentence was less than three years of jail, the actor could have applied for bail in the same court. However, he will now have to approach the sessions court for bail.
Earlier in the day, other accused in the case - Tabu, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam - were acquitted, while the 'Sultan' actor was held in the court.
Here is the timeline of the 20-year-old case:
In October 1998, total three cases in connection with poaching and one under the Arms Act were registered against Salman. The 52-year-old actor allegedly shot two blackbucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani in Kankani village near Jodhpur during
In October 1998, total three cases in connection with poaching and one under the Arms Act were registered against Salman. The 52-year-old actor allegedly shot two blackbucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani in Kankani village near Jodhpur during the shooting of 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'.
Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam were also present in the vehicle Salman allegedly used for hunting the endangered species protected under Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife Act.
Salman was charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and others under Section 51 read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.
The 'Dabangg' actor was in February 2006 convicted in the blackbuck hunting case, slapped a fine and sentenced to five years in jail. He spent a week in a Jodhpur jail before being granted bail.
The Rajasthan High Court on August 31, 2006, suspended the sentence and ordered the actor to not leave the country without formal permission.
The court, six years later on July 24, 2012, finalised charges against the actor and other accused in the four cases.
On July 25, 2016, the Rajasthan High Court acquitted Salman of all charges in the blackbuck poaching case and said there was no evidence to prove that the endangered animals were shot by the actor's licensed gun.
The Supreme Court on November 11, 2016, issued a notice to Salman on an appeal by the Rajasthan government challenging his acquittal in blackbuck poaching case. The apex court had agreed to fast-track the case.
In January 2017, Salman Khan was acquitted by a Jodhpur court in the Arms Act case.
The Jodhpur Chief Judicial Magistrate Court on March 25 under Jodhpur District Presiding Officer Devkumar Khatri had issued April 5 for the judgment in the 20-year-old case.
(With ANI Inputs)