The Jodhpur Sessions Court today reserved its order on the bail plea of Bollywood actor Salman Khan in connection with the 1998 blackbuck poaching case. The development means that the actor will have to spend at least one more night in Jodhpur Central Jail as Qaidi no. 106.
The trial court yesterday convicted the actor and sentenced him to five years of imprisonment, while other accused actors in the case – Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam – were acquitted.
Soon after the sentencing, Salman was taken to Jodhpur Central Jail, where he spent the night. Jail sources said Salman was lodged in barrack number 2 in a heavily protected and secure cell.
As It Happened:
12:59 pm: Actress Preity Zinta meets Salman Khan in jail. The meeting took place for around half an hour.
11:28 am: Jodhpur Sessions Court reserved its order on Salman's bail plea till tomorrow. The actor will have to spend at least one more night in jail. The decision is likely to come at 10:30 am tomorrow.
11:03 am: Hearing on Salman's bail plea is currently underway. Actor's counsel Mahesh Bora begins argument on the case.
10:50 am: Salman's lawyer says there are lapses in the trial court's decision, adding that the actor is innocent.
10:39 am: Yesterday I got threatening SMSes and internet calls warning me not to appear for Salman Khan in bail hearing today: Mahesh Bora, Salman's Counsel
10:31 am: Salman's sisters Alvira and Arpita arrive at Jodhpur Sessions Court along with bodyguard Shera.
10:05 am: The application includes two pleas -- one challenges the verdict of the trial court and the other is for the bail of the actor.
08:30 am: As the tenure of the sentencing is more than three years, Salman had to approach the higher court for bail plea. The hearing is scheduled at 10:30 am at Jodhpur Sessions Court.
08:15 am: No special treatment was given to the Bollywood actor. He was served dal and chapati in dinner. However, jail authorities said that he did not eat the jail food.
08:00 am: Salman was kept under high security in barrack no. 2, adjacent to that of self-styles godman Asaram.
This is Salman's fourth stint in the Jodhpur Central Jail, which also houses religious preacher Asaram Bapu, who has been accused of rape. He had earlier spent a total of 18 days in the jail in 1998, 2006 and 2007, all for cases of poaching.
The actor is accused of killing two blackbucks in the Kankani village near Jodhpur in 1998 during the shooting of the film 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'.
He 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.
This is last of the three poaching cases against Salman. He was convicted in the last two cases by the Jodhpur trial court, but was later acquitted by the Rajasthan High Court.
Earlier in January 2017, the Bollywood star was acquitted in the Arms Act case by a Jodhour court on grounds of “insufficient evidence”. The case pertained to possessing an unlicensed .22 rifle and a .32 revolver and using them to kill the two blackbucks.
Also Read: IndiaTV Exclusive: When Salman Khan shared his side of story in blackbuck poaching case with Rajat Sharma on Aap Ki Adalat
Final arguments in the blackbuck case were completed in the trial court on March 28. In his verdict, Khatri also imposed a Rs. 10,000 fine after finding him guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, which prescribes a maximum punishment of six years behind bars.
The actor is alleged to have shot and killed the blackbucks in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the night of October 1, 1998 during the shooting of the film "Hum Saath Saath Hain".
Blackbuck, from the antelope family, is an endangered animal and included in the schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act-1972.
According to prosecution lawyer Mahipal Bishnoi, the actors were in a Gypsy that night with Salman in the driving seat. He spotted a herd of blackbucks and killed two of them, Bishnoi says.
However, Salman's lawyer said that the fact that the court has acquitted all the 5 co-accused, "would imply that Salman was out hunting alone in the middle of the night in a remote area outside Jodhpur."
All the accused, some of them accompanied by their family members, were in the courtroom when the verdict was read out.
Salman's friends in the industry expressed concern over the verdict with some saying the actor was punished harshly for his star-status.