Jodhpur, Apr 7 (PTI) In a relief to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, a sessions court here today granted him bail in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case in which he was sentenced to five years in jail.
District and Sessions Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi also allowed 52-year-old Khan’s application for suspension of sentence for a month against his conviction.
Khan, who spent two nights in the Jodhpur Central Jail after his sentencing on Thursday, was granted bail on a bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of like amount, defence counsel Mahesh Bora said, adding he is likely to be released from prison this evening once the papers are ready and sent to the jail authorities.
The judge asked the actor to appear before the court after a month on May 7 when it will hear his plea for suspension of sentence.
Earlier in the day, the judge heard the arguments of the prosecution and the defence which lasted about an hour and pronounced the order at around 3 pm, a defence counsel said.
Khan’s sisters – Alvira and Arpita – were present during the hearing.
The actor was convicted by a trial court and sentenced to five years in prison for killing two black bucks during the shooting of “Hum Saath Saath Hain” here.
In a late night development, an order was issued to transfer Joshi to Sirohi, as part of a reshuffle. He was among 134 judges transferred by the registrar general of the Rajasthan High Court.
The judge had yesterday reserved his decision on Khan’s bail plea till today after hearing arguments on the suspension of sentence and the bail application.
He had also sought the record of the case from the lower court.
In his arguments yesterday, defence counsel Bora had said there were various loopholes in the investigation. He had argued that no investigation in any of the cases of poaching proved that Salman used firearms.
He had told the court that the eyewitness in the case was “not reliable” and “it was never proved that he had firearms. Even the pellets recovered from him did not corroborate the story of the prosecution. Also, the first post-mortem report was completely dumped.”
Bora had also argued, “Besides this, he (Khan) has been acquitted in all the other cases of poaching on the basis of the prosecution’s failure to prove the allegations and in such a condition, his sentence should be suspended.”
Countering the defence counsel’s arguments, public prosecutor Pokar Ram Bishnoi had urged the court to seek the record of the case from the trial court and go through it.
He had told the court that this was the only case where an eyewitness was available and the prosecution has succeeded in proving the crime beyond any doubt.
The actor was sent to prison for shooting and killing blackbucks in Kankani village near Jodhpur on the night of October 1, 1998, during the shooting of the film “Hum Saath Saath Hain”.
While convicting Salman, the trial court acquitted his Bollywood colleagues Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre and a local, Dushyant Singh, giving them the “benefit of doubt” for the incident.
After Khan was granted bail, his friends and well-wishers from the film industry expressed their happiness over the decision.
Director of Salman’s upcoming film “Race 3” Remo D’Souza told PTI, “I am happy that he has got bail. After working with him so closely I have become a huge fan of him not only as an actor but also as a human being.
“Almost 90 per cent of the shoot for ‘Race 3’ is over and the remaining portions will mostly be shot in India,” he said.
Producer of “Race 3” Ramesh Taurani said he is “happy” that the actor will come out of jail.
Khan’s “Dabangg” co-actor Sonu Sood tweeted, “A Good deed is the best Prayer. Welcome brother Salman Khan.”
Singer Adnan Sami, who composed the music of Khan’s “Lucky: No Time for Love”, said, “So happy for the bail of my dear brother Salman Khan . Relieved. Come home. JAI HO!”