Salman Khan skips court hearing in blackbuck poaching case
Jodhpur: Bollywood actor Salman Khan on Friday skipped a hearing in a local court here in connection with the blackbuck poaching case that goes back two decades.
The sessions court granted him exemption from appearance for the day's hearing, following an application by his counsel saying that he is busy in a film shooting.
The court is hearing Khan's plea against the trial court's April 2018 verdict sentencing him to five years in prison.
In the last hearing on July 4, the sessions court had asked Khan to appear before it on September 27, failing which his bail plea may be cancelled.
"We moved an application in the court seeking exemption for Khan from personal appearance as he is busy in shooting and cannot appear in court," the actor's counsel, H M Saraswat, said, adding that the court granted the application.
Besides, the defense cited a death threat issued recently to Khan by a gangster as a ground for seeking exemption from personal appearance for him.
The defense argued that the actor's appearance may cause a law and order issue in the city as the police will have to make adequate arrangements for his security.
Objecting to the argument, the prosecution asked why no police complaint has been lodged by the defense if there is a real threat to Khan's life.
"It is just a gimmick," a prosecution counsel, Mahipal Bishnoi, said.
Khan's counsel also moved a fresh application seeking permanent exemption for him from personal appearance during the hearing of his appeal which began in May last year.
The prosecution objected to the appeal.
"We opposed the application and prayed for submission of our reply on this application," Bishnoi said.
The sessions court judge, however, allowed the application and listed the matter for hearing on December 19.
On April 5, 2018, Khan was sentenced to five years in prison for killing two blackbucks while he was on a night safari outside Jodhpur, on the sidelines of a film shoot.
However, the trial court had acquitted his Bollywood colleagues Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre and a local resident Dushyant Singh, giving them the benefit of doubt in the October 1998 incident.
The actors were in Rajasthan shooting for "Hum Saath Saath Hain".
Khan had spent two nights in the Jodhpur Central Jail before being granted bail.