Salman back to familiar jail for the night before court hears appeal against 5-year jail term
Jodhpur, Apr 5 (Agencies): Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was on Thursday sent to a jail here to spend a night before he can prefer an appeal against the five-year jail term handed to him earlier in the day by a court in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case.
The trial court has acquitted his colleagues Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre and a local, Dushyant Singh, giving them the “benefit of doubt”.
Salman’s lawyer Anand Desai said he had submitted a plea for bail, which a sessions judge will hear on Friday morning.
“We have preferred an appeal to the Hon'ble Sessions Court and applied for an urgent hearing today,” Desai said.
Stargazers, media crews and security personnel swarmed the court premises and lined up along the two kilometre route from the court as the 52-year-old was whisked away in a Bolero police jeep for his fourth stint at Jodhpur Central Jail.
Salman has earlier spent a total of 18 days in the jail in 1998, 2006 and 2007, all for cases of poaching.
Jodhpur Central Jail also houses religious preacher Asaram Bapu, who has been accused of rape.
Jail sources said Salman, arguably India's most successful actor, was lodged in barrack number 2 in a heavily protected and secure area.
As the latest sentence is more than three years, Salman will have to appeal in a higher court for bail.
Held guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, he had faced a maximum punishment of six years behind bars. He has been sentenced to five years and fined Rs 10,000.
The actor shot and killed the blackbucks, an endangered species, in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the night of October 1, 1998, during the shooting of the film Hum Saath Saath Hain.
Desai said although they respected the court's verdict, the decision “came as a surprise” as the actor had been acquitted in the previous cases, which had the same facts as in this one. Salman has been acquitted by the high court of Rajasthan in two cases.
”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,” he said.