Bollywood actor, Salman Khan, has been sentenced to five years jail time on Thursday, after being accused of poaching rare antelopes in a decade-long case from 1998.
Khan, one of Bollywood’s superstars, was found guilty for killing two rare blackbucks during the shooting of one of his films in the northwestern region of India in 1998.
The artist, who has starred in over 100 Bollywood movies, has been jailed for five years for the illegal killing, and also been fined with 10,000 Indian rupees ($150). According to reports, Khan has to spend a few days in jail before being able to appeal the court’s verdict.
Blackbucks are an endangered species in India and are protected under the Indian Wildlife Act of Section 51.
The case, which was finalized back in 2012, took six years before the actual judgment was handed down. The government of Rajasthan filed an appeal in 2013, after witnessing that no action had taken place regarding the insensitive kills.
Throughout 2017, Khan’s lawyers failed to provide the court with any new evidence to prove his innocence, and the trial finally began in March 2018.
Although other Bollywood celebrities – Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Sonali Bendre and Tabu – were also accused in the same case, they have been acquitted.
After the verdict was announced on April 5, Twitter users had plenty to share on the matter.
One user said, “For those saying justice delivered in Salman Khan case. Remember the case pertains to 1998, it has already been 20 years. A stay and bail still a probability from the high court. In most likelihood he won’t be in jail for long. I would be happy to be proved wrong.”
Another Twitter user stated, “Black Bucks born around the time of the shooting would be dead of natural causes by now. Years since Black Buck incident: 19. Life expectancy of Black Buck in years: 10-15.”
Another Twitter user shared his concern regarding India’s ‘legal system’.
He said, “At the pace at which Indian legal system functions, even humans might be extinct by the time the final judgment in Salman Khan blackbuck case comes. I can visualize a robot SC judge delivering the verdict.”
After the decision was given by the court, Salman Khan’s lawyer, Anand Desai, also gave a public statement:
“We respect the decision of the Hon’ble Court. While we are studying the judgement it just came as a surprise, as the entire investigation, and facts of this case were the same as those for which Salman has been acquitted by the Hon’ble High Court of Rajasthan in two cases, and even by the Hon’ble CJM in the Arms Act matter for the alleged offence on the very same night as is the subject matter of the present case.”
The statement continued, “Also, in the present case, the Hon’ble Court has acquitted all the 5 co-accused which would imply that Salman was out hunting alone in the middle of the night in a remote area outside Jodhpur.”
Desai further added that the artist’s bail or sentence will be announced tomorrow, which they have requested to be held at 10:30 in the morning.
He said, “We have preferred an appeal to the Hon’ble Sessions Court and applied for an urgent hearing today. The Hon’ble Sessions Court will hear the appeal for suspension of the sentence/bail at 10:30 tomorrow.”
This is not the first time Khan has been involved with the law. In 2015, he was convicted in a hit-and-run and DUI case, after driving over a homeless man and injuring 4 people.
Several Bollywood celebrities are now arguing that since Khan has done a lot of humanitarian work, he should be treated with lenience. Whether Khan appeals or is allowed bail remains to be seen.
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