Poaching case: Fresh notices to Saif, Sonali, Tabu

Saif Ali Khan

The Jodhpur bench of the Rajasthan High Court on Monday issued fresh notices to film stars Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam Kothari on an appeal by the state government, challenging their acquittal by a trial court in a case of hunting two blackbucks in 1998.

Notice was also issued to local Dushyant Singh who accompanied the actors when the poaching took place in Kankani village near Jodhpur in October 1998.

Bollywood actor Salman Khan is the sole accused who was convicted in the case. The trial court had sentenced him to five years in jail on April 5 last year, while acquitting the five other co-accused. Khan is presently out on bail.

A single judge bench of justice Manoj Kumar Garg issued notices to the respondents, seeking their reply within eight weeks.

Earlier, the high court had on March 11 issued notices to the five respondents on the state government's appeal, challenging their acquittal in the case.

"Of these, notices to Saif and Sonali could not be served. Considering this, the court issued fresh notices to them seeking reply in 8 weeks," said government counsel Mahipal Bishnoi.

After the five file their replies, the state's appeal would be sent back to the session court for further hearing, as the first appeal to a magisterial court judgement lies in the sessions court, explained Bishnoi.

The state had come to the high court after the sessions court had taken objection to the late filing of the appeal by the state government, he said.

Salman Khan has already challenged his conviction before the sessions court, which is presently hearing the defence arguments in his appeal.

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