BOLLYWOOD star Salman Khan has been found guilty in the blackbuck poaching case by a Jodhpur, Rajasthan court.
However, actors Sonali Bendre, Saif Ali Khan, Neelam and Tabu were acquitted.
Final arguments in the case were completed in the trial court on March 28, after which Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved the judgment that was to be pronounced on April 5.
Salman Khan, 52, faced charges under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act while the other actors were charged under Section 51 read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code. The maximum punishment under Section 51 is six years.
The actors were accused of hunting down two blackbucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani in village Kankani near Jodhpur on the intervening night of October 1 and 2, 1998. The actors were in the city for the shooting of the film ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’.
Public Prosecutor Bhawani Singh Bhati had argued that there was sufficient evidence against the actors.
Refuting these allegations, H M Saraswat, the defence counsel for Salman Khan, had said there were many loopholes in the prosecution’s story and the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond any doubt.
He had said that the prosecution had engaged in tampering with and fabricating evidence and documents as well as roping in fake witnesses to prove the case. It had even failed to prove that blackbucks were killed by gunshots. Hence such an investigation could not be be trusted, Saraswat had argued.
The blackbuck is an endangered species and is protected under the Indian Wildlife Act.