A Jodhpur court has sentenced Bollywood superstar Salman Khan to a five-year jail term in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case, while other actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam Kothari have been acquitted. He has also fined Rs 10,000 under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
According to reports, the 52-year-old actor was accused of killing two blackbucks in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the intervening night of 1-2 October 1998, during the shoot of Hum Saath Saath Hain.
According to sources, Salman has been taken into custody and a warrant is being prepared. The actor will be housed in barrack number 1 in Jodhpur Central Jail, say local media reports.
The actor is being taken out of the court and taken for a medical examination now and then to Jodhpur Central Jail. On the other hand, the members of the Bishnoi community are shouting slogans against the actor.
According to reports, Salman's sisters Arpita Khan Sharma and Alvira Agnihotri broke down inside the court after the verdict was pronounced. Salman, however, tried to console his sisters.
As per the law, if the punishment was under three years, Salman would have been eligible to appeal for bail at the higher courts as the Jodhpur court's verdict would have been considered as not the final say in the case. But now that the actor has been sentenced to five years in prison, he can't be granted bail immediately.
Salman, who has been held guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, had faced a maximum punishment of six years behind bars. Final arguments of the case were completed in the trial court on March 28, after which Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved his judgment.
All the actors were in a Gypsy that night with Salman in the driving seat. He spotted a herd of blackbucks and killed two of them, the lawyer said.
Dressed in a black shirt, Salman reached the court earlier in the morning with his bodyguard Shera.