JODHPUR/MUMBAI – Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was on Jan. 18 acquitted by a Jodhpur court in an Arms Act case involving the killing of blackbucks. Even as the jubilant actor thanked his fans for support and some colleagues hailed the decision, Twitterati trolled him.
The court, in its 102-page order, did not find him guilty under Sections 3/25 and 3/27 of the Arms Act. Chief Judicial Magistrate Dalpat Singh Rajpurohit announced the ruling after having completed the hearing Jan. 9.
“The prosecution could not prove any offence against Salman. It took a long time but ultimately the truth has won,” Salman Khan’s lawyer Hastimal Saraswat told IANS.
Khan and his sister Alvira were present in the court – the actor looking crisp in a blue t-shirt with the ‘Being Human’ tagline – when the judge held he was not guilty of keeping an unlicensed weapon and using it during an alleged blackbuck hunt in 1998.
The verdict brought visible respite on Salman Khan’s face.
Police had a hard time controlling the actor’s supporters in the court premises, many of whom carried his pictures. The actor even gave autographs to his fans later.
“Thank you for all the support and good wishes,” Khan tweeted minutes later.
Khan and a few other Bollywood actors were accused of poaching blackbucks on the night of Oct. 1, 1998, during the shooting of the Hindi movie, “Hum Saath Saath Hain” in Rajasthan.
Son of veteran writer Salim Khan, Salman Khan has earlier been acquitted in two other cases related to the incident.
But the actor’s acquittal didn’t make everyone happy.
“Salman Khan teaches us that you can pass the buck when it comes to killing blackbucks if you have lots of bucks,” wrote one user.
“Salman Khan, the ‘Tees Maar Khan’ of laws and court cases. Shame,” posted another.
One more read: “There are millions who know that Salman Khan is guilty in both cases. Your voice has no value if it is against power and money. How sad!”
Hailing the court's decision, actor Alok Nath, who played Khan’s onscreen father in “Hum Saath Saath Hain,” told IANS: “It is a happy ending to a long, stretched out case. He and his family must be really relieved.”
He added: “Salman is a great guy... He has a brilliant career. Now, it is time for him to get married and have children.”
Actor Ronit Roy said he was happy for him, while actor Rahul Dev, a former contestant on “Bigg Boss 10” which Salman Khan hosts, told IANS: “I have faith in the judicial system and an acquittal signifies he is innocent. It puts to rest any sense of doubt in the eyes of the public.”
Mumbai-based eatery Bhaijaanz Restaurant, named after the “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” actor, announced a 50 per cent discount on its offerings on the receipt of the news from Jodhpur.
The actor’s run-ins with the judiciary aren’t new.
The Rajasthan High Court in July last year had acquitted him in another case, also related to the chinkara poaching.
He had moved the Jodhpur bench of the high court, challenging a lower court verdict handing him a one year and a five-year term in two separate cases of poaching. He was held guilty by the lower court and sentenced in 2006.
Khan and the Rajasthan government challenged the lower court verdict on different grounds.
In July 2016, the high court, while allowing his appeal, acquitted him of all the charges and also dismissed the appeal filed by the state government to enhance the sentence.
The state government filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the actor’s acquittal.
In 2015, he was also acquitted in a 2002 hit-and-run case by the Bombay High Court. His vehicle ran over a group of people sleeping on a pavement, killing one of them.