Bollywood actor Salman Khan on Friday failed to appear before a Jodhpur court after he was summoned in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case. The actor had filed a plea against his conviction by a lower court, which had sentenced him to five years in jail for killing two blackbucks during the shooting of a film in 1998.
After the actor failed to turn up today, the Jodhpur District and Sessions Court fixed December 19 as the next date of hearing.
Nishant Bora, one of Khan’s lawyers, said there is no need for an appearance and that the court did not insist on it either. Bora, however, informed the court about the death threat and also raised concerns over the law and order situation each time the actor appeared on the premises.
During a hearing on July 4 this year, Sessions Court Judge Chandra Kumar Songara had directed Khan to appear before the court on September 27, failing which his bail plea may be cancelled, PTI had reported. The actor has not appeared before the court since May last year, when he was granted bail.
Khan recently received death threat by a gangster named Garry Shooter, who belongs to the Lawrence Bishnoi gang. The threat was made on a Facebook group by the member of Punjab University’s student union SOPU’s (Student Organisation of Punjab University).
The post, written in Hindi, reads, “Salman you may think that you can escape from the Indian law, but the Bishnoi community and Sopu party have given you a death sentence. You are guilty in Sopu court. Salaam sahid da nu; Respect girls; Save animals; Avoid drugs & help poors; Sukha kahlon Garry.” A photo of the Dabangg actor has also been attached with the post.
After the post went viral, the police initiated a probe into the matter. “The police are on alert. We also gave proper security to the celebrity when he came here for hearing previously. An investigation has been initiated,” DCP Dharmendra Yadav had told IANS.
Prosecution counsel Mahipal Bishnoi had earlier said the court had verbally asked Khan’s counsel to make him appear in the court during the last hearing.
At that time, the defence counsel sought an exemption for the actor from appearance, after which the court asked the actor to be present before it as he had been absent since the beginning of the hearing on his plea.
In February, the Jodhpur High Court had issued notices to actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam Kothari and Tabu after the Rajasthan government challenged their acquittal in the Blackbuck poaching case by the local court.
While Saif, Sonali, Neelam, Tabu and Dushyant were acquitted in the case on April 5 last year, Salman Khan was convicted under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and was awarded a five-year prison term along with a fine of Rs 10,000.
However, after spending two nights in Jodhpur Central Jail, he was granted bail on a bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of the same amount.
(With inputs from agencies)