Jaipur: Bollywood star Salman Khan arrived more than an hour late at the court to hear the judgment in the 19-year-old arms act case against him, but walked out a free man within seven minutes.
Chief Judicial Magistrate (GJM) Dalpat Singh Rajpurohit who had ordered Salman Khan to be present in the court during pronouncement of the judgement, waited for him to come and took only two minutes to deliver the verdict once the actor arrived.
The CJM asked Khan his name and then acquitted him of both the charges against him under section 2/25 and section 27 of the arms act. Salman was accused of carrying possessing using arms -- a -0.22 rifle and a 0.32 revolver with an expired license -- to kill two blackbucks in Kankani village near Jodhpur on October 1-2, 1998.
Giving Salman Khan the benefit of the doubt, the judge declared him “not guilty” as the prosecution had failed to produce adequate evidence and witnesses to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
In the 102 pages order, the judge also observed that the two post mortem reports on the deer listed different causes of death, dog-bite and gunshot wound.
Khan's lawyer had argued that the actor only had air guns and there was no evidence that he had used firearms neither during the alleged hunting nor while he was staying in Jodhpur.
"The court admitted our arguments that Khan was framed in this case as there was no concrete evidence against him," Salman’s lawyer Hastimal Saraswat said. Luckily for the actor, an eyewitness for the prosecution also did not show up.
However, prosecution lawyer B S Bhati said that the decision would be challenged in the session court after studying the judgment. The Bishnoi community too had hinted filing appeal against the decision.
Salman Khan and a few other Bollywood actors were accused of poaching blackbucks on the night of October 1, 1998 during the shooting of Hindi movie “Hum Saath Saath Hain”. There were three cases of poaching and one case of arms act against him in which he was acquitted on Wednesday.
The actor was already acquitted in two poaching cases in Bhawad and Ghoda Farm by the High Court against which the state government has filed SLP in the Supreme Court. The third case in Kankani village would come up for hearing on January 25 when the court will read charges to him and co accused Saif Ali Khan, Tabbu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam.
Earlier, dressed in a crisp white shirt, the 51-year-old star came to the Jodhpur court with his sister Alvira. The actor appeared tense but smiled later when the judge acquitted him. He greeted, shook hands with fans and also signed autographs before leaving the court - all in just about seven minutes.
September 27, 1998: Salman Khan was accused of hunting two Chinkaras at Bhawad in Mathania near Jodhpur.
September 28, 1998: Salman was also accused of hunting another Chinkara at Ghoda farms two days later.
October 2, 1998: Bishnoi community lodged a police complaint against Salman and four others involved in the killing of blackbucks. Other accused Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam who were with him for the filming of Hum Saath Saath Hain.
October 12, 1998: Salman Khan was arrested and released on bail in the next five days.
October 15, 1998: Case for killing blackbucks in Kankani village using arms with expired license date.
February 17, 2006: The trial court convicted and sentenced him for a year in jail in Bhawad hunting case.
April 10, 2006: Salman was sentenced to five years in jail and was levied a Rs 5000 fine in Ghoda Farm hunting case.
August 24, 2007: The Session Court upheld the conviction and dismissed the appeal of the actor.
August 31, 2007: The Rajasthan High Court suspended the sentence.
24 July, 2012: Rajasthan High Court finalised charges against him in the case.
December 2012: The Rajasthan High Court revised the charges. In the fresh charges, Salman was charged with Section 9/51 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
August 2013: Salman Khan was denied a visa for the UK owing to the conviction charges.
November 13, 2013: Rajasthan High Court stayed the sentence of the actor.
16 November, 2015: Hearing in both the cases began in High Court.
March 10, 2016: Salman recorded statement in Kankani poaching case pleaded innocence and accused forest department of framing him.
13 May, 2016: Justice Nirmaljit Kaur completes hearing in Bhawad and Ghoda Farm poaching cases but reserved her judgment.
July 25, 2016: Salman acquitted by the High Court in Bhawad and Ghoda Farm poaching cases.
October 18, 2016: Rajasthan Government files SLP in Supreme Court against High Court decision.
January 09, 2017: Arguments by both the sides in arms act case completed on January 9.
January 18, 2017: Salman gets benefit of doubt, acquitted by the court.
January 25, 2017: Charges to be read to Salman and co accused in Kankani poaching case by the trial court.