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05 December 2023

Bollywood star Salman Khan granted bail

By Sanskriti Media/AFP

Despite a change of judge,  Bollywood actor Salman Khan, accused and then convicted of killing black bucks in 1998 was granted bail on Saturday afternoon by the Jodhpur Sessions Court.

The actor's lawyers argued that Salman has always been present for all the hearings and hence should be granted bail.  Salman was let off on bail on a surety bond of Rs 50000. (Sanskriti Media)

Salman Khan to remain in jail

In an unprecedented move, the Rajasthan High Court transferred Sessions Court judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi who was slated to hear Salman Khan’s bail plea on Saturday.

This effectively means that Salman Khan will have to spend few more nights in jail. Apart from Justice Joshi, 87 district judges were also transferred. Salman’s lawyers had appealed for a bail on Thursday following his conviction in the 20-year-old blackbuck killing case.

Salman who is currently lodged in Jodhpur Central Jail was sentenced to five years in prison after being held guilty of killing two blackbucks in Jodhpur during the shooting of his movie Hum Saath Saath Hain in 1998. (Sanskriti Media)

Bollywood hero Salman Khan forced to spend extra day in jail

An Indian court Friday adjourned a bail plea by Bollywood superstar Salman Khan so that he can fight a five-year jail term for killing endangered wildlife.

The decision means the 52-year-old actor will have to spend at least one more night in prison in the Rajasthan city of Jodhpur where the shock jail term was ordered on Thursday.

Khan was not present at the sessions court in Jodhpur when the judge said he wanted to see the entire case record before deciding whether Khan should be granted bail.

Khan applied for bail after the lower court Thursday ruled him guilty under wildlife protection laws and ordered the jail term.

"We argued for bail in the court. Basically the eyewitness is not reliable... the trial court has convicted Salman on the basis of basically just one eyewitness," Mahesh Bora, a lawyer for Khan, told reporters in Jodhpur.

Khan, one of the world's most highly paid actors, has denied killing the rare antelopes known as black bucks during an alleged hunting safari in 1998.

He has been in Jodhpur Central jail since the verdict. (AFP)

Salman Khan found guilty; given five years in jail

Justice Dev Kumar Khatri presiding over the black buck killing case against Salman Khan has found Salman Khan guilty of killing the endangered animal and sentenced him to five years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 fine calling him a habitual offender.Salman was arrested and taken to the Jodhpur Central Jail where he will be lodged close to Asaram Bapu.

The defence was asking for a year long probation while the prosecution had asked for six years in jail for Salman Khan. Salman, along with actors Tabu, Saif Ali Khan, Neelam and Sonali Bendre, were accused of killing black bucks in Rajasthan during the shooting of the film Hum Saath Saath Hain 20 years ago in 1998. The other actors have been acquitted in the case.

The lawyers are now planning to move higher courts to appeal against the sentencing immediately.  

The sentence will jeopardise Bollywood films worth Rs 600 crores including Race 3, which will be impacted immediately. “It is shocking. Race 3 is 90 percent complete and maybe affected. Other films like Bharat and Dabangg 3 which are other production and films like Kick 2 and Remo D Souza’s dance film and the show Dus Ka Dum and the next season of Bigg Boss will need to assess what they want to do next,” says Atul Mohan, trade expert.

The rollout outside Galaxy Apartment

With sister Alvira Khan and Arpita Khan with the actor, the rest of Salman Khan’s family including his father Salim Khan were holed up inside their house at Galaxy Apartments while some fans had assembled earlier in the day who later went away. The family refused to talk when contacted and asked for time to comment till the verdict came out. Salim Khan refused to speak when he was asked to do so during his morning walk.

Producers like Ramesh Taurani and brother in law Atul Agnihotri who are producing the under-production Race 3 and the Ali Abbas Zafar directed Bharat maintained a stoic silence as did Sajid Nadiadwala who is planning Kick 2 with the actor next year.

Unlike the earlier time when Salman was in court for the hit and run case, there were a lot of fans outside Galaxy Apartments, but this time, it was an eerie silence.

Actor Samir Soni, husband of actress Neelam who has accompanied the actress to Jodhpur reacted, “I am happy for Neelam, but sad for Salman.”

The court proceedings

The judge Justice Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved the judgement for April 5, after hearing all arguments last month. After the judge pronounced him guilty, the other four actors stood in the court shocked. There was no sign of relief on their faces when the judge pronounced Salman guilty. Salman Khan’s face dropped and his sister Alvira quickly went up to him to lift his spirits. The others did not move out even they were acquitted and left only after half an hour trying to show solidarity – a la – Hum Saath Saath Hain.

The judge then went into his chamber to listen to both the lawyers and include the citations from both the prosecution and the defence. While the prosecution argued that he was a repeat offender having been sentenced earlier by the same court twice, the defence lawyers put forth the argument that he was later let off by higher courts and also put forth all the charity work done by Salman Khan under his Being Human foundation.

Salman became very emotional talking only with sisters Alvira and Arpita as the judge was writing the sentence down.

The Bishnois still want justice

The Bishnoi community from Rajasthan who have led the tirade against Salman for the last 20 years in the meantime are not happy that Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Tabu and Sonali Bendre have been let off despite being mute spectators to the killing of the black buck and plan to approach the higher courts. However, they are happy that Salman Khan has been punished and it would go a long way in preserving wildlife as they were facing charges under the Wildlife Protection Act. (Sanskriti Media)

Salman Khan guilty of killing rare antelopes

Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was found guilty Thursday of killing endangered wildlife nearly two decades ago, a prosecutor said, a charge that could see the bad boy of Indian cinema jailed for six years.

Khan, one of the Indian movie industry's most bankable stars, was convicted by a court in Rajasthan state of poaching the rare antelopes known as black bucks in 1998.

He will be sentenced later Thursday and faces between one and six years in prison for the crime that has gripped cinema-obsessed India for decades.

Hundreds of police were deployed outside the courtroom in Jodhpur to keep back fans who massed to support the body-building actor best known for his macho roles.

Khan, wearing black sunglasses and a figure-hugging black shirt, walked briskly from a white SUV to the courthouse flanked by security.

Four other Bollywood stars - Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam Kothari - were also accused of joining the hunting trip but were acquitted for lack of evidence.

"Salman Khan has been convicted under the wildlife protection act and the rest of the stars have been acquitted," prosecutor Mahipal Bishnoi told reporters.

Khan, whose legion of fans emulate his distinct hairstyle and fashion, has accused the state's forest department of framing him over the black buck case.

His defence lawyers had suggested the black buck died of natural causes such as overeating, and claimed there was no evidence they had been shot.

Controversial bad boy

The 52-year-old has been dogged by multiple charges since undertaking the infamous hunting safari in protected forest land while shooting a film in Rajasthan.

The Bishnois, a Rajasthani tribe seen as custodians of the region's wildlife, filed a complaint against the actors.

Khan was found guilty of killing gazelles on the hunting trip and served a very brief stint in jail, but was freed on appeal in 2016.

Last year he was also cleared by a court over the alleged use of unlicensed firearms on the expedition. A higher court is challenging his aquittal.

Controversy has followed the Bollywood bad boy since he burst onto the silver screen in the 1980s.

He was cleared in 2015 of killing a homeless man in a hit-and-run accident. That decision is now being challenged in the Supreme Court.

Indian courts can often take years - and sometimes decades - to pronounce verdicts.

But the off-screen drama has done little to dampen his appeal.

He remains one of Bollywood's biggest draws, starring in more than 100 films and television shows.

According to Forbes, he made $37 million in yearly earnings to finish second behind Shah Rukh Khan in the 2017 Bollywood rankings.

Both the Khans are among the top 10 most highly paid actors in the world.

The Bollywood heartthrob's latest blockbuster "Tiger Zinda Hai" (Tiger is alive) collected some $85 million worldwide. (AFP)