Jodhpur: In a relief for Salman Khan, a trial court today acquitted the Bollywood star of all charges in the Arms Act case in the alleged poaching of two black bucks 18 years ago, holding that the prosecution permission given by the district administration was a "mindless move". In a 102-page long order, the chief judicial magistrate Dalpat Singh Rajpurohit ruled that possession and use of fire arms with expired license by Salman could not be proved by the prosecution.
51-year-old Salman was present in the court along with his sister Alvira. After his acquittal, Salman took to Twitter to thank his fans for their good wishes and prayers. "Thank you for all the support and good wishes," he tweeted. According to the prosecution, Salman was alleged to have kept and used the fire arms with expired license during poaching of two black bucks in village Kankani near Jodhpur in Rajasthan on October 1-2, 1998.
"The prosecution permission by the (then) district magistrate (Rajat Kumar Mishra) was given without applying mind and was non-speaking and non-regent," the court said, adding that Salman had to suffer for this unnecessarily. The order said that the license of Salman's arms in question was valid for 3 years till 8/8/99 and at the time of alleged poaching, it was just not renewed, which did not mean, it was expired.
"For this condition, the license holder should submit his arms with the police, failing which, he should be prosecuted under section 21 of Arms Act instead of sections 3/25 and 27." The court clearly ruled that Salman's license was not expired during the poaching as argued by the prosecution counsel but it was just not renewed.
The court also said that it was only the license, which was invalid then, not his arms, and therefore he could not be prosecuted under section 3 but 21 of Arms Act, which was not the case here. The moment the magistrate pronounced his verdict Salman was in control of his emotions and maintained a stoic face. He, however, returned the wishes to the advocates present in the court and also obliged them with the autographs before leaving the premises.
While coming out, he waved to his fans, who had converged in the court premises in large number and were also lined up along the road. Khan arrived in the court to hear the verdict at 11.45 a.m. and remained there for barely 15 minutes.
Now, Khan has to appear in the same court on January 25, when the court will record his statements in the Kankani black buck poaching case. Hailing the verdict, defence counsel Saraswat said the court "admitted our arguments that Khan was framed in this case".
Prosecution counsel B S Bhati said that they would appeal against the acquittal in the sessions court after studying the judgement. Khan had earlier appeared in court on March 10 last year for recording of his statements before the court, wherein he had pleaded innocence and had stated that he had been framed in the case by the forest department.
The case under the Arms Act is one of the four cases against the actor. While the Rajasthan High Court has acquitted him in two cases of poaching of chinkara, trial in the third case of alleged poaching of two blackbucks is on. Elaborate security arrangements were made in the court premises in view of Khan's appearance with nearly 150 policemen deployed.