Mumbai, Apr 5: Actor Salman Khan, who today was sentenced to five years of imprisonment in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case, is most likely to apply for bail and challenge the verdict in the Rajasthan High Court. Salman did the same in the 2002 hit-and-run case. The actor had challenged a trial court verdict that held him guilty of driving his Toyota Land Cruiser over people sleeping on a Bandra footpath in Bombay High Court, which acquitted him of all charges.

“Since a trial court has found Salman Khan guilty of poaching blackbuck, he has to suffer rigorous imprisonment unless Sessions court admits his appeal and enlarge him on conditional bail,” advocate Shahid Nadeem, a criminal lawyer practicing in Bombay High Court and Supreme Court, told “Salman Khan does have legal recourse to cut short his confinement if the sessions court agrees to his submissions,” he added.

Salman Khan was found guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 for killing two blackbucks, an endangered species, hunting of which is prohibited by law. He has been sent to Jodhpur Central Jail where self-styled godman and rape accused Asaram Bapu, gangster Lawrence Bishnoi and Shambhu Lal Regar, who killed a Muslim labour, Afrazul, in Rajsamand, would give him company.

“Salman Khan can apply for fresh bail in Sessions Court along with his appeal against the conviction. Since he was already on bail during the trial and no adverse report reported against him, most likely he will get bail on that basis apart from other aspects of his family and professional commitments,” advocate Shahid Nadeem said. “The government can also challenge the acquittal of other co-accused in Sessions Court, so the matter is not yet over for them,” he pointed out.

Salman Khan’s Blackbuck Poaching Case: Background

While Salman was convicted, other four co-accused stars — Sonali Bendre, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu and Neelam — were acquitted of all charges. Today’s case was the last of four cases against the actor related to the 1998 poaching incident that took place in Jodhpur. While the three cases, including today’s, were related to violations of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, the fourth one was to do with an Arms Act violation. Salman was acquitted in the fourth case last year in January.

The actor was earlier convicted in two of three poaching cases by a trial court. The two cases were related to poaching Chinkara, while today’s third poaching case was to do with blackbuck. The incident took place in Kankani village near Jodhpur on October 1-2, 1998, during the shooting of film Hum Saath Saath Hain. Nearly 500 crores are at stake and the verdict is likely to affect three major film projects.