Salman pleads innocence in Arms Act case

Jaipur, March 10 : Salman Khan today appeared in a Jodhpur court in the Arms Act case, pleading innocence and claiming that he was being framed in the case relating to use of arms with expired licences.

Pleading innocence, he called himself a “human being and an Indian” when asked to state his caste in the court of magistrate Dalpat Singh Rajpurohit. Salman’s sister Alvira and his bodyguard Shera were also present during the court proceedings. He stayed in the court for less than about half an hour. This was third appearance in the court in the same case.

Rajasthan forest department had registered this case on October 12, 1998, after the arms, allegedly used by Salman to kill two black bucks, were found to have expired licences. The case was filed at Luni police station on the outskirts of Jodhpur (about 334 km from here) against Salman.

This case is one of the four cases of poaching endangered blackbucks and chinkara in Jodhpur region by the actor , who then here shooting for the film Hum Saath Saath Hain.

The case has dragged on for over 17 years now after the actor was found guilty of poaching on the intervening night of Oct 1-2, 1998.

Two black bucks, which are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, were found killed in village Kankani near Jodhpur. He was shooting for director Sooraj Barjatya’s multi-starrer movie with co-stars Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam.

The judgment in Arms Act case was to be given last year but was deferred after the court had accepted the actor’s plea to produce four pending prosecution witnesses, whose applications dating back to 2006 had come to light and needed to be examined.

Salman had filed an appeal for reexamination of four witnesses including Udai Raghavan, who brought the weapons from Mumbai and Vijay Kumar Pandit, from Mumbai police.
Questioned about his signature on the authority letter which was used to get the arms from Mumbai and found in the possession of witness Udai Raghavan, Salman today admitted that the signature was his but he was forced to sign under pressure from forest officials.

Salman’s counsel today asked for more time to produce some more witnesses. The case would be heard again on April 4. Salman was asked to appear in person in the court today after the examination of all the defence witnesses was completed on March 3.

He had appeared in the court in April last year in the same case. If convicted in the Arms Act case, Salman can face upto seven years in jail.

Salman was earlier convicted and sentenced to a year and five years in two of the other cases. He has been jailed twice, once in April 2006 and then in August 2007. The actor had moved Rajasthan High Court, which stayed the orders.

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