Salman Khan gets bail in blackbuck poaching case, may leave Jodhpur jail this evening

JodhPur: Actor Salman Khan was granted bail by a Jodhpur court on Saturday, two days after he was convicted of killing two blackbucks in 1998.

District and sessions judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi allowed Salman’s plea for bail and suspension of sentence so he can file an appeal against his conviction and sentencing.

The actor, who spent two nights in the Jodhpur Central Jail after his sentencing on Thursday, was granted bail on a bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of like amount, his lawyer Mahesh Bora said.

Salman is likely to be released this evening once the papers are ready and sent to the prison authorities, his lawyer said.

The next date of hearing is on May 7.

Mahipal Bishnoi, the lawyer for the Bishnoi community, said Salman will not be able to leave the country without the court’s permission.

The 52-year-old was sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday after being convicted for killing two blackbucks, an endangered antelope, in 1998.

The case against the Bollywood superstar was registered on the complaint of the Bishnoi community which reveres nature and considers killing animals a sin. The blackbuck is protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and the punishment for hunting blackbuck can be up to six years.

The actor killed the animals in Rajasthan’s Kankani village near Jodhpur during the shooting of film Hum Saath Saath Hain.

His co-stars and accused in the case — Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Tabu and Sonali Bendre — were acquitted on the grounds of benefit of the doubt.

Salman, who is prisoner no. 106 in the jail, was visited by his sisters Alvira and Arpita as well as actor Preity Zinta.

Judge Joshi pronounced the order in the post-lunch session after hearing arguments in the morning for nearly an hour.

The judgment on bail was reserved on Friday after the prosecution sought time to peruse case papers.

The hearing

Salman’s counsel Bora moved an application in the district court that included as many as 54 grounds on which the lower court’s verdict was challenged.

But public prosecutor Pokarram Bishnoi contended that this case was different. He said there were eyewitnesses who had recorded statements saying they had seen Salman shoot the blackbucks.

Bora told the sessions court that the trial court had ignored many facts in its decision. “The first post-mortem report of the blackbucks did not state that gun shot was the cause of death. No gun was seized from the accused.”

He pointed out that the investigation agency did not send the blackbuck skin for forensic examination. Only the bone was examined in which no bullet injury was found.

Bora also pointed out that Salman had fulfilled all orders of the court and so his sentence should be suspended.

Future projects

The actor will next be seen in Remo D’Souza’s Race 3 with Jacqueline Fernandez and Bobby Deol. Salman is not only acting in the film, he is also a co-producer. The film’s estimated budget is over Rs 100 crore and it is expected to do massive business at the box office when it is released this Eid.

He will also star in Bharat, an official Hindi remake of Korean film, Ode to My Father. The film is mounted on a lavish scale and might mark the return of Priyanka Chopra to Bollywood.

Salman will also return to the small screen with his popular game show Dus Ka Dum. Sony has already released the promo and Salman has also shot for teasers. He also endorses multiple brands as well and earned Rs 232.83 crore in 2017, backed by endorsements of several consumer-facing brands, according to Forbes.

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