SC reserves order on plea against Salman Khan in black buck hunting case

NEW DELHI, Nov 5: The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a Rajasthan government’s appeal challenging High Court’s order staying conviction of Bollywood actor Salman Khan in the black buck hunting case in which he was awarded five-year jail term by a trial court.

A bench headed by Justice S J Mukhopadhyay also raised questions on High Court’s verdict for staying the mega star’s conviction without going into the merits of the case and just to pave the way for him to get the visa to travel to the United Kingdom for professional purposes.

“It is completely perverse and not based on evidence. Can conviction be suspended merely because you want a visa? If the same principle is applied then any convicted person can apply for services (jobs) after getting his conviction suspended,” the bench said.

Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for Khan, said that the actor will face hardship if his conviction would not have been stayed by the high court as it adversely affects his right to travel abroad.

Responding to the submission, the bench referred to its recent verdict on disqualification of the lawmakers in the event of conviction and said, can the conviction of a politician be also stayed merely because he says that he will face hardship and get disqualified as an MP/MLA after conviction.

The bench said that the court and the government have allowed Salman to go abroad but if he is not given visa to travel to the UK for his conviction then he should approach the British authority.

“There is no restriction on you in this country. Court and government have allowed you to go abroad so your rights have been taken care of. So if you have any grievances then you can approach the UK court,” it said, adding that this court cannot issue a writ to the British authority to consider and grant the visa.

The state government had approached the apex court against the order of Rajasthan High Court which had, on November 12 last year, stayed his 2006 conviction in the case and paved the way for him to get a British visa.

During the hearing, the court, however, agreed that age is

one of the important factors in life of an actor and it would be harsh if one is not allowed to go abroad till final verdict comes.

Under British immigration rules, any person convicted for more than four years is not eligible for a visa. Since the actor was convicted for five years, he was denied visa by the British Embassy.

The passports of Indian convicts are stamped with the word “convict.”

Black buck is a protected animal and its hunting is a punishable offence.

Khan was convicted and sentenced to one-year and five-year prison terms in separate cases of poaching of two Chinkaras at Bhawad and one black buck at Ghoda Farm (Mathania) on the intervening night of September 26-27, 1998 and September 28-29, 1998 respectively.

The actor had approached the High Court in 2007 seeking a stay on his conviction by a trial court so that he could file a fresh application for a British visa.

Besides Khan, actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam were accused of poaching near Jodhpur during the shooting of the film ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’. (PTI)


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