The Gujarat High Court on Friday quashed a criminal complaint against Bollywood actor Aamir Khan and four others in connection with a case of alleged shooting of Chinkara, a protected animal, in their film “Lagaan” without prier permission from the concerned officials during film’s shooting in 2000 in a Kutch village.
Acting Chief Justice VM Sahai after arguments quashed the criminal proceedings against Aamir khan, his ex-wife Reena Dutta, film director Ashutosh Gowarikar, executive director Srinivas Rao and cinematographer Ashok Mehta.
Following complaint before a judicial magistrate in Bhuj, Kutch in 2008 the court had issued bailable warrants against Khan and other accused. They approached the Gujarat High Court against the Bhuj court’s order and got stay on the warrant. Initially, the complaint had been lodged by an officer from Forest Department but after it was closed, the matter was taken up again by an RTI activist Amit Jethava who filed a fresh complaint in 2008 before the Bhuj court. Jethava was killed in 2010 allegedly by mining mafia of Junagadh district.
“Except the movie there is no evidence that there has been killing of Chinkara. There has to be some legal evidence to book someone. Except a scene from the movie there is no proof in the complaint that Chinkara was shot,” said a lawyer who represented Khan in the case who requested not to be quoted.
One of the previous court orders states, “The entire allegation is based upon a scene of the film “Lagaan” which cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be said to be a legal evidence of possession of the animal in question viz Chinkara.”
During the hearing the defence had produced statement of Pankaj Khandpar, ex creative director of Western Outdoor Media Technologies, wherein he said that “the entire sequence was by way of special effects and that no real animals have ever been used.” The defence had submitted that the allegations made in the complaint are “absurd.”
Defending Khan and others the lawyers had questioned the criminal case initiated by the Bhuj court, saying, “the proceedings have been initiated after a delay of more than eight years and no explanation has come forth as to why the delay has been caused.”
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