Actor Salman Khan has been acquitted today in two poaching cases, with the Rajasthan High Court over-turning earlier verdicts that sentenced him to jail time.
Salman Khan, 50, has been accused of shooting protected antelopes or chinkara in separate incidents in 1998 while filming a movie in the desert state.
The High Court today said there was no evidence to prove that the animals who were found dead were shot by Mr Khan’s licensed gun.
The driver of the jeep that was used by Salman Khan and his co-stars for their alleged hunt has been missing, weakening the prosecution’s case against the movie star, who was not required to attend today’s court session.
A third case about Salman Khan’s alleged poaching of endangered blackbuck is yet to be decided in Rajasthan.
The state government must decide now whether to appeal to the Supreme Court to over-rule today’s decision.
“We will study the court order today and then the forest department along with the law and home departments will decide on the appeal in this case,” said Raj Kumar Rinwa, Rajasthan’s Forests and Environment Minister.
In 2006, Mr Khan was sentenced to five years in jail for killing the chinkaras. He then spent a week in jail in Jodhpur before being granted bail.
The actor is currently in a huge face-off with the National Women’s Commission for stating that his training for his role as a wrestler in his blockbuster new film, “Sultan”, left him feeling “like a raped woman.” He has not apologised for the comment, as demanded by the women’s rights body.
Last year, the Mumbai High Court overturned the actor’s conviction in a 13-year-old hit-and-run case in which he is accused of running over a homeless man while driving drunk in Mumbai. He has denied he was driving.
Salman Khan was allegedly involved in poaching of two blackbucks near Jodhpur in the intervening night of 1-2 October, 1998. The case under the Arms Act was registered with the Luni Police station in Jodhpur as the forest department of Rajasthan alleged that the arms used by the actor during the poaching incident had expired licences and so he used them illegally.
Khan was in Jodhpur for the shooting of movie Hum Saath Saath Hain when the incident ccurred.