In a partial relief to Bollywood star Salman Khan and four other actors, the Supreme Court today refused to entertain a plea of Rajasthan government seeking to re-invoke the charge of rioting against them in the 15-year-old black buck killing case.
"The charge under the Wildlife Protection Act has been retained against all the five accused. The Sessions judge discharged them of charge under sections 146 (rioting) and 147 (punishment for rioting) (under the IPC) and the Revision court (HC) also upheld it," a bench of justices P Sathasivam, JS Khehar and Vikramajit Sen said.
It did not allow the plea of Rajasthan government challenging the dropping of rioting charges against Salman, Saif Ali Khan, Tabbu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre.
During the hearing, the counsel for the state government said that the charge has wrongly been dropped against them as the said provision talked about the violence which can be used against anything such as property and animal. The violence should not necessarily be undertaken against human beings.
Earlier, the Rajasthan High Court had revised the charges framed against Khan and the ther Bollywood celebrities and paved way for their trial in the case.
The High Court had said that Khan would be charged under Section 51 of Wildlife Act and Section 149 of the IPC (Unlawful assembly).
Section 51 of Wildlife Act entails jail sentence up to three years or fine or both.
The actors have been accused of poaching two Black Bucks in the intervening night of 1-2 October, 1998 in Kankani village near Jodhpur during the shooting of Bollywood flick Hum Saath Saath Hain.
Other actors have been booked under section 52 (attempts to contravene, or abet the contravention of, any of the provisions) of Wildlife Act and section 149 of the IPC. against others.
The state government had moved the High Court in 2006 against dropping of some charges against Salman and others.
After six years, the High Court, on July 24, 2012, upheld the lower court's decision on it.
The lower court had framed charges under sections of Wildlife Act, the Arms Act and the IPC against Salman Khan and the others.
Besides the present case, Salman Khan has been convicted for 1 year and 5 years for poaching of two Chinkaras at Bhawad and one Black Buck at Ghoda Farm (Mathania) in the intervening nigh of 26-27 September, 1998 and 28-29 September, 1998 respectively.
Appeals against these sentences both by Salman Khan and state government are pending in the high court.