Salman Khan was acquitted, July 25, by the Rajasthan High Court in two cases related to poaching of Chinkaras in Jodhpur in 1998. A day later, the witness, Salman’s driver reappears. – @siliconeer #siliconeer #bollywood #salmankhan #beinghuman #chinkarapoachingcase
The court held that the pellets recovered from the Chinkaras were not fired from Khan’s licensed gun.
The driver of the jeep that was used by Khan and his co-stars on their alleged hunting mission has been missing, weakening the prosecution’s case against the movie star.
Khan, 50, was jailed in 2007 for nearly a week for shooting an endangered gazelle in 1998.
Appeals of Khan against sentence in the two cases relating to poaching of Chinkaras in Bhawad and Mathania was allowed by the high court which acquitted him in both the cases.
Justice Nirmal Jit Kaur rejected the plea of the state government against the actor.
Two separate cases had been registered against Khan under section 51 of Wildlife Protection Act for poaching of two chinkaras in village Bhawad on 26-27 September, 1998 and one chinkara in Mathania (Ghoda Farm) on 28-29 September, 1998.
The trial court (CJM) had convicted him in both the cases sentencing him to one year and 5 year imprisonment on February 17, 2006 and April 10, 2006 respectively.
The convictions were challenged by Khan in the sessions court, which dismissed appeal in Mathania s case and transferred appeal to high court in Bhawad s case, where already two appeals by the state government had been pending.
Hearing on both these petition in high court had begun on November 16, 2015 and were completed on May 13, 2016, after which justice Nirmal Jit Kaur had reserved her judgment.
While arguing the case in the high court, defense counsel Mahesh Bora had contended that Khan had been falsely framed in these cases, merely on the statements of a key witness Harish Dulani, the driver of the vehicle, which was allegedly used in poaching in both these cases.
Bora argued that Dulani was never available to them for cross-examination and hence his statements could not be relied upon in conviction of Khan. He also argued that both of these cases have been built on circumstantial evidences and there was no eyewitness or any material evidence against Khan.
Besides this, the major observation by the court was that it did not find the pellets recovered from the vehicle matching with those, recovered from the possession of Khan.
Khan’s counsel Bora said, “There was no evidence against Salman Khan and it is proved now that he was falsely framed in these cases.”
Additional Advocate General K.L. Thakur said that the decision to appeal against the court’s verdict will be taken after getting a copy of the order.
Stick to Statement that Salman Killed Chinkara: Driver
The man who was driving the jeep used by Salman Khan during an alleged deer hunt in Rajasthan in 1998 stuck to his claim, July 27, that the actor had shot the animal.
The statement by Harish Dulani, who was reported to be “missing,” came two days after the 50-year-old actor was acquitted by the Rajasthan High Court in two cases related to poaching of Chinkaras in Jodhpur in 1998.
Dulani also maintained that he was not absconding but was only under fear due to threats.
“I stick to the statement I made before the magistrate 18 years ago that Salman got off the car and shot the deer. I was not absconding but I was scared due to several threats received by me and my father,” he told NDTV.
“Due to fear I went away to my relatives’ place in Jodhpur. We had asked for protection but did not get it. If I had police protection, I could have given a statement. That was what I always intended,” he added.
Dulani, the prosecution’s only witness in the poaching cases, was reported missing since 2002, which weakened the prosecution’s case against the movie star.
The driver also said that he has been “punished” for being Salman’s driver.
“I have been punished for being Salman’s driver. I am living my life in fear,” he said.
The lawyer argued that Dulani was never available to them for cross-examination and hence his statements could not be relied upon in the conviction of Khan.
‘Will Provide Protection to Witness if He Asks for It’
Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria has said the state police would provide protection to a key witness in Chinkara poaching cases, who surfaced after Salman Khan was acquitted by the High Court, if he asks for it in writing.
The witness, Harish Dulani, who was driving the jeep used by Khan during the alleged Chinkara hunt in Jodhpur in 1998, had maintained that he had not come forward earlier due to threats to his life.
“He never approached us and did not bring this issue to notice. If he gives anything in writing, arrangement for his protection would be made. If he does not come, he will be contacted by the local police,” Kataria said, July 28.
Dulani was reported to be “missing” since 2002, which weakened the prosecution’s case against Khan, and had surfaced two days after the actor was acquitted.
He stuck to his claim that the actor had shot the animal dead.