After spending two nights in the Jodhpur Jail, Salman Khan was granted bail in the 1998 Blackbuck poaching case in which he was found guilty and awarded a five year jail term.
Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi, who began hearing his bail request this morning for the second day, announced his decision just after lunch.
The 52-year-old actor was given a jail sentence of five years for killing two blackbucks 20 years ago in Kankani village, near Jodhpur in Rajasthan, during the shooting of a multi-starrer, “Hum Saath Saath Hain”. His co-actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam Kothari and Sonal Bendre, who were in the SUV that the Khan was driving during their alleged late night hunting outing, were, however, acquitted by the Jodhpur sessions court.
In another development on Saturday, the judge who had reserved the bail plea of Bollywood Superstar was transferred.
In the hearing, the prosecution talked about the credibility of the witnesses and hinged the case on the post-mortem report which said that the blackbucks had gunshot wounds. However, Salman’s lawyers argued that only the bones of the animals were sent for evaluation when their skins, as crucial, weren’t. They are also asking for bail on grounds that the witnesses against him are not reliable.
Judge Joshi, who is in the middle of the annual reshuffle of judges in Rajasthan, had, on Friday, put off the hearing by a day as he wanted to go through the entire case record before making a decision. He will be replaced by Chandra Kumar Songara, district and sessions judge of Bhilwara within the next week.
On Thursday, Judge Dev Kumar Khatri had convicted Salman Khan for poaching two endangered blackbucks in 1998. The case against him was brought by members of the Bishnoi community, who revere antelopes. The community has pursued the case for almost two decades and welcomed his conviction.