JODHPUR: A Jodhpur court today sentenced Bollywood star Salman Khan to five years in jail and sent him to the Jodhpur Central Jail for killing two blackbucks in October 1998, a prosecution lawyer said.
The court acquitted his colleagues Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre and a local, Dushyant Singh, giving them the "benefit of doubt", the lawyer said.
Chief judicial magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri refused to show leniency to the 52-year-old actor, saying Salman being a celebrity should have acted responsibly. The judge said, “Accused is a famous film actor and deed [sic] done by him can be followed by public.”
Salman, 52, was taken to the Jodhpur Central jail from the court premises in a police vehicle, police officials said.
As the sentence is more than three years, Salman will have to appeal in higher court for bail. This is his fourth stint in the Jodhpur Central Jail.
He has earlier spent a total of 18 days in the jail in 1998, 2006 and 2007, all for cases of poaching.
Final arguments of the case were completed in the trial court on March 28, after which Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved his judgment.
Today, the court sentenced him to five years in jail and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000, prosecution lawyer Mahipal Bishnoi said.
Jodhpur: Police personnel deployed outside Jodhpur court ahead of verdict in Blackbuck poaching case. Saif Ali Khan,Neelam & Sonali Bendre's lawyer says,'if they are found guilty then there is equal punishment for all. Maximum punishment will be for six years & minimum one year.' pic.twitter.com/omRMnr3Weh— ANI (@ANI) April 5, 2018
Held guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, he had faced a maximum punishment of six years behind bars. While sentencing Salman, the court also noted that incidents of hunting of wild animals have been on the rise. The testimony of prosecution’s star witness Poonamchand nailed Salman but no prosecution witness, including Poonamchand, could identify the other accused in the case.
The actor shot and killed the blackbucks, from the antelope family, in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the night of October 1, 1998 during the shooting of the film "Hum Saath Saath Hain".
All the actors were in a Gypsy that night with Salman in the driving seat.
He spotted a herd of blackbucks and killed two of them, the lawyer said.
All the accused, some of them accompanied by their family members, were in the courtroom when the verdict was read out.
(With inputs from Express News Service)