For all the Bollywood hits that he has provided over the years, actor Salman Khan’s legal troubles have been a constant over the last 20 years and have kept him in the news for all the wrong reasons. With a Jodhpur court on Wednesday acquitting him under the Arms Act in the blackbuck poaching case, a look into the history of the Bollywood superstar’s battles in the courthouse:
The 2002 hit-and-run case
On September 28, 2002, Salman Khan’s white-colour Toyota Land Cruiser crashes into American Express Bakery at Hill Road at Bandra killing one person and injuring four others. He was later arrested, but released on bail. In October the same year, Mumbai Police invoke Section 304-II of the IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) following which Salman Khan surrenders and is arrested. But less than three weeks later, the superstar is out on bail.
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In March 2003, Salman Khan, in a sessions court, challenges the application of Section 304-II. The court rejects Salman’s plea following which he moves Bombay High Court that June. Much to his relief, the high court says Section 304-II us not applicable in the case. That October, the Maharashtra government moves Supreme Court which, two months later, says the magistrate court shall decide whether the relevant section could be applied or not.
Nine years after Supreme Court’s decision in the case, the magistrate court adds Section 304-II, and sends the case to a sessions court. The sessions court in July 2013, frames charges against him for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, following which he pleads for a fresh trial. In December the same year, a fresh trial is ordered.
Following the trial, Salman Khan is found guilty by a trial court in May 2016 and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The Bombay High Court takes up the case for hearing in July following which he is acquitted in December for lack of evidence whether the actor was actually driving the vehicle or not. Following that the Maharashtra government challenges the decision in Supreme Court. But the apex court is unsure regarding reopening the case. Even the family of the victim files a petition challenging the acquittal, but to no avail.
Chinkara and blackbuck poaching case:
On September 26, 1998, Salman Khan is accused of hunting two Chinkaras at Bhawad in Mathania near Jodhpur during the filming of Hum Saath Saath Hain. Two days later he is accused of hunting another Chinkara at Ghoda farms in Jodhpur. Four other actors — Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendra, Tabu and Neelam — are also seen hunting blackbucks. That October, the Bishnoi community lodge a police complaint against Khan and four others involved in the killing of blackbucks. Ten days later he is arrested, but bailed out in the next five days.
In April 2006, Salman Khan is convicted in the black buck hunting case by one of the trial courts under the Wildlife Protection Act wherein he was fined for Rs 5,000 along with five years of jail. He appeals the trial court’s decision, but a sessions court upholds the conviction dismissing his plea. A week later, much to his relief, the Rajasthan High Court suspends Khan’s sentence. However, it orders the actor not to leave India without taking a formal permission. Salman is sentenced to five years in prison by the Rajasthan High Court for hunting a blackbuck during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain. He spents six days in Jodhpur Central Jail before his sentence is suspended. His sentence is stayed next November allowing him to apply for a UK visa for shooting reasons, which prompted the Rajasthan government to approach the Supreme Court in 2014.
In July 2016, Salman Khan is acquitted by the Rajasthan High Court in both cases of poaching, which is followed by the Rajasthan government’s petition against the high court’s decision. Many wildlife activists including PETA condemned the acquittal.
Arms Act Case
Apart from the cases of poaching against Salman Khan, a separate case under the Arms Act was also charged upon the Bollywood superstar. While shooting for Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Saath Saath Hain, Salman and co-actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam were allegedly caught poaching blackbuck and Chinkara gazelles at a farmhouse near Jodhpur. Police said the 51-year-old the actor was possessing and using weapons with an expired license. Salman was charged under the 3/25 and 3/27 of the Indian Arms Act. The police, on a complaint by the forest department, booked the actor under relevant sections of the Arms Act for possessing and using weapons with an expired license.
In March 2016, a Jodhpur court summons Salman Khan for recording statements in the Arms Act case. In his statements, the actor pleads innocence and alleges he had been framed by forest officials. In July, the Rajasthan High Court observed that pellets recovered from Salman Khan’s hotel room did not match with those recovered from the vehicle allegedly used by him in poaching of chinkara, which effectively acquitted him in the cases of poaching. And on January 18 this year, the Jodhpur court pronounced its verdict in the Arms Act case against Salman Khan where he is acquitted of all charges.