4 more cases haunt mega star

Bollywood actor Salman Khan is no stranger to run-ins with the law. Before the conviction and sentence in Mumbai's hit-and-run case recently, Salman Khan had already been sentenced twice in two separate cases of poaching by a Jodhpur court in 2006.

But troubles are not yet over for the actor as two more cases under Wildlife Protection Act and Arms Act are still under trial in a Jodhpur local court in which Khan is the main accused. Khan's brush with the law began with his journey to shoot the film ‘Hum Saath Saath Hai’ in Rajasthan in 1998. Salman, along with actors Sonali Bendre, Tabu, Neelam and Saif Ali Khan, was accused of poaching in Jodhpur region in September-October.

After the matter came to limelight, the Rajasthan wildlife authorities lodged three separate criminal cases against Salman and his co-stars for hunting at different locations over three nights.

A fourth case under the Arms Act was later lodged in December 2012, after the court refused to add the additional charges of arms act in the three cases. The two cases presently under trail relate to hunting two blackbucks at Kankani village of Jodhpur using unlicensed weapons in 1998.

 Section 51 of Wildlife Protection Act was imposed on Khan for poaching blackbucks while section 3/25 and 27 of Arms Act were imposed for using unlicensed revolver (S&W 32 bore) and a rife (22 bore) during hunting. Salman is the main accused in both the cases.
 A week before that, Salman had appeared before the court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) in Jodhpur to record his statements in the Arms Act case.

He refused to accept any of the charges and alleged that he was deliberately framed by forest officials. Interestingly, the final arguments in the case had already been completed on February 10 but court deferred the judgment as hearing on four applications were found pending.

According to legal experts, had the four applications moved by the then public prosecutor in 2006 not caught the attention of a trial court early this year, Salman would have received judgment in the Arms Act case on February 25.

 These applications contained a plea to call 24 witnesses for examination before the trial court. Public prosecutor N K Sankhla had emphasised that examination of these witnesses was important for the case but defence counsel H M Saraswat argued that the case had already reached the stage of judgment and there was no point in accepting the applications.
Allowing the application partially, the court permitted the prosecution to call only four of the 24 witnesses.
 
Revision petition

In the meantime, Salman’s lawyer filed a revision petition to re-examine the five witnesses in the arms act case. The revision petition was rejected by the session court on last Wednesday, and it was deemed as a major set back to Salman.

The public prosecutor informed the court that all the five witnesses have already been examined earlier and that the defence lawyer was trying to delay the case by filing revision petition. 

At a time when trial under Arms Act case is inching toward its completion, Salman Khan is likely to appeal in Rajasthan High Court against lower courts decision to reject his revision petition.

 In case High Court approves revision petition, all the five witnesses will be re-examined and the case is likely to prolong for some more time. The sections imposed on Khan under Arms Act have the provision of one to seven years of imprisonment.

 Meanwhile, another case against Khan under Wildlife Protection Act is also under trial in which other stars like Tabu, Neelam, Sail Ali Khan and Sonali Bandre are the co accused. The court is likely to record the statements of these key witnesses in the next hearing due in June. Sections imposed under Wildlife Act have the provision of three to six years of imprisonment.
 Salman was first sentenced to one year in prison on February 17, 2006 for killing two chinkara (Indian gazelle), the state animal, at Bhawad village near Jodhpur on the night of September 26-27, 1998.

The sentence came with a provision of appeal to the higher court within 30 days. On April 10, 2006, he was awarded a five-year jail term for hunting one black buck, a protected animal, at Ghoda Farm near Jodhpur's Mathania village on the night of September 28-29, 1998.

The mega star was, however, released on bail within days after he appealed against his conviction in both the cases. He had spent a total of eight days at the Jodhpur Central Jail in different parts.  The Bollywood star had been out on bail since then in the two poaching cases. The appeal in both the cases is pending before the Rajasthan High Court's Jodhpur bench for almost eight years now.

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