Bollywood actor Salman Khan was on Wednesday acquitted by a Jodhpur court in an 18-year-old Arms Act case. The case is one of the four against the actor after the 1998 poaching incident. While the Rajasthan High Court has acquitted him in two cases of poaching of chinkara, trial in the third case of alleged poaching of two blackbucks is on. On Wednesday, Salman thanked his fans for their good wishes and prayers after his acquittal.
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Salman was present in the Jodhpur court along with his sister Alvira. As soon as the verdict was announced, Salman hugged his sister who is considered to be his ‘lucky charm’. Nearly 150 policemen were deployed in the court premises in view of Salman’s appearance. A large number of the actor’s fans were also present.
What did the court say?
Jodhpur Chief Judicial Magistrate Dalpat Singh Rajpurohit acquitted Salman Khan ruling that the prosecution had failed to produce adequate evidence and witnesses to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. Arguments by both the sides in this case were completed on January 9.
What did the prosecution and defence say?
Salman’s counsel Hastimal Saraswat had earlier said: “we had argued in the court that there was no evidence that Khan was carrying fire arms either during his stay here or during alleged poaching. What he was found in possession with, were actually air guns.” On Wednesday, Saraswat said, “Justice has won. Prosecution completely failed to prove charges under sec 3/25, 3/27 of Arms Act. We have always said that the evidence, documents and the entire case was fabricated to frame Salman. What was (forest officer) Lalit Bora’s interest in this?”
Prosecution lawyer Bhawani Singh Bhati had said that the government will take a call about appealing against the judgment after analysing the order. “He has been given benefit of doubt. We’ll decide on appealing after analysing the judgment,” he said.
What was Salman Khan charged with?
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. Under Section 25(3) of the Arms Act, a person shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine of an amount which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both. Section 27(3) of the Act states that whoever uses any prohibited arms or prohibited ammunition or does any act in contravention of section 7 and such use or act results in the death of any other person, shall be punishable with death.
What had happened in 1998?
While shooting for Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Saath Saath Hain, Salman and his 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 also charged under the Wildlife Act for allegedly poaching Chinkara gazelles at a farmhouse near Jodhpur. He had appeared in court on March 10, 2016 for recording of his statements before the court, wherein he had pleaded innocence and had stated that he had been framed in the case by the forest department.
What next for Salman Khan?
Salman, along with HSSH co-actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu, Neelam, is due to appear in a Jodhpur court next Wednesday to record their statements in another case related to poaching of blackbucks. The Rajasthan government has already moved the Supreme Court via a special leave petition against Salman’s acquittal by the High Court last year in two cases under the Wildlife Protection Act for poaching Chinkaras.