Five-year jail for Salman in poaching case (Lead)

Jodhpur, Aug 24 Rejecting his appeal, a district court here Friday upheld the punishment of five years in jail for Bollywood star Salman Khan given by a lower court in Rajasthan for shooting a chinkara deer in 1998.

Friday, August 24, 2007 | 1:42:38 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Jodhpur, Aug 24 (IANS) Rejecting his appeal, a district court here Friday upheld the punishment of five years in jail for Bollywood star Salman Khan given by a lower court in Rajasthan for shooting a chinkara deer in 1998.

Salman will now file a review petition in the high court, his lawyer said.

In April last year, Salman had filed an appeal in the district and sessions court against the judgment of the chief judicial magistrate's court in Jodhpur that had sentenced him to five years 'rigorous' imprisonment and fined him Rs.25,000.

The chief judicial magistrate's court had found Salman guilty under Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act. After that, Salman was taken to Jodhpur Central Jail where he spent three nights before the district and sessions court gave him bail.

On Friday, however, the district and sessions judge Kamal Raj Singhvi rejected his appeal and upheld the five-year jail term and the fine imposed on the star of such hit films as 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' and 'Hum Apke Hain Koun'.

The actor failed to appear for the hearing Friday, saying he missed the flight to Jodhpur from Hyderabad where he is currently shooting. However, his sister Alvira was present in court.

Salman's counsel Dipesh Mehta said: 'We would certainly file a review petition in high court as soon as possible. We expect to get the certified copy of the judgment today. We would study it and file it soon.'

He said Salman did not appear in the court personally as the court had given no directive in this regard.

The Bishnoi community, which has been insisting that Salman should be brought to book for the crime, did not take kindly to his absence.

'Salman had an inkling that his appeal would be turned down so he did not come to court. The judge said his presence or absence did not matter since it was judgment time,' said Mahipal Bishnoi, the lawyer for the Bishnoi community.

Bishnois consider the deer a sacred animal and are party to the case along with the state government.

'An arrest warrant will be issued by the court, so either Salman should surrender or he will be arrested,' a Bishnoi said.

Salman has been convicted of poaching a chinkara, an endangered deer species, in the Ghoda farm near Jodhpur on the intervening night of Sep 28, 1998 while filming for Sooraj Barjatiya's blockbuster 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'.

A case was registered against Salman and five others under Sections 143, 144, 148 and 201 read with 149 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 51 and 52 of the Wildlife Protection Act and Section 27 of the Indian Arms Act at Mathania Police Station on Oct 11, 1998.

Salman who faces four cases in Jodhpur has also been sentenced to one-year imprisonment in another poaching case in Bhawad and has filed an appeal there too.

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