The Rajasthan govt has contented that its high court had stayed the conviction of Bollywood star Salman Khan in the black buck killing case merely because he was a celebrity.
Challenging the stay order in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the state govt said: "The high court appears to have been impressed by the fact that the accused is a famous actor. However, it failed to consider and apply the principle that everyone is equal before law and that law does not make any distinction between a celebrity and others while allowing his application for suspension of sentence and conviction."
Advocate V Prakash, appearing for Rajasthan govt also contended that the high court could not grant stay on the conviction under the Wildlife Protection Act. Salman Khan had submitted in the high court that the court could not grant stay only in corruption cases.
Salman had been convicted and sentenced to five years in jail under the Wildlife Protection Act by a Jodhpur magistrate court in 2006, and the ruling was upheld by the sessions court in 2007.
On Aug 31, 2007 the high court suspended the sentence, but told Salman not to leave the country without court's prior permission.
Last Nov, the high court however, altered the condition on travelling abroad and stayed the conviction after accepting his submission that he had not been able to obtain a UK visa due to the sentence.
In its plea, the state said: "The high court has gravely erred in altering the condition as well as suspending the sentence and conviction on the ground that the actor's profession required him to travel abroad."
The complaint lodged against actors Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Tabu and Sonali Bendre was that they were involved in hunting the protected black bucks. These actors were accused of poaching two black bucks in Kankvillage near Jodhpur in Oct 1998. The alleged incident took place during the shoot of the film 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'.