By Elton Gomes
Bollywood actor Salman Khan has been sentenced to jail for five years after having been found guilty by a Jodhpur court in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case, while Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam were acquitted. Khan has been charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
Khan will also have to pay a fine of Rs 10,000 as imposed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate (Jodhpur Rural). Judge Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved the order after hearing the final arguments on March 28, 2018. The actor can file an appeal in the Sessions Court.
Khan will be lodged at the Jodhpur Central Jail tonight, with his bail petition to be heard tomorrow.
— ANI (@ANI) April 5, 2018
What this means for Bollywood
The film and television industry alike are likely to face massive losses in the wake of the court’s ruling. Khan is presently working on four films and is also the host of the popular Bigg Boss reality show.
The multi-starer Race 3 is set for a release in Eid 2018. The film is expected to have a budget of around Rs 100 crore. The produces, however, can breathe a sigh of relief as the shooting for Race 3 has been complete and the movie is in the post-production stage.
Khan had also signed up for Ali Abbas Zafar’s Bharat, adapted from a South Korean film, Ode to my Father.
With an estimated budget of roughly Rs 200 crore, Bharat was expected to begin shooting in April. If Khan ends up in prison, a substantial delay will be caused.
Khan will also miss out on the immensely popular Bigg Boss if he remains in jail. He reportedly charged Rs 11 crore per episode to host the show. Bigg Boss‘s large viewership is in part because of the actor.
What happened in October 1998
On the intervening night of October 1 and 2, 1998, Khan was accused of killing two blackbucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain.
Public prosecutor Bhawani Singh Bhati told the court, “All of them (the actors) were in a Gypsy car that night, with Salman Khan in the driving seat. He (Salman Khan), on spotting a herd of black bucks, shot at and killed two of them.”
Singh further added that on being spotted, the actors fled the scene and left the dead animals there.
To this, Khan’s counsel Saraswat countered: “Prosecution has failed to prove the allegations. It engaged in tampering and fabricating evidence and documents as well as roping in fake witnesses to prove its case.”
Other cases against Salman Khan
The Bollywood actor is not unknown to controversy, having been accused in several cases.
In October 1998, the police filed a case against the actor for possessing and using unlicensed .22 rifle and .32 revolver made in the US. Khan allegedly used these weapons to kill the blackbucks.
Again in 1998, during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain, Khan had two cases filed against him. The cases were filed under Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act. It was alleged that the actor had poached three chinkaras.
Khan was also accused in the infamous 2002 hit-and-run case in which one man was killed. The Bombay High Court, however, found the actor not guilty, cancelling the five-year jail sentence that had been pronounced by the trial court.
Khan may have been acquitted by the court, but the question of who was driving the car remains. Although he has claimed that his driver Ashok Singh was driving the car, the actor’s bodyguard Ravindra Patil stated that Khan was allegedly driving drunk and ignored his repeated warnings. Until his death in 2007, Patil claimed that it was Khan who ran over five pedestrians, out of whom one was killed.
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