The Bollywood star Salman Khan has been acquitted of shooting and killing three endangered animals nearly two decades ago, a verdict that overturned a lower court’s ruling that would have sent the actor to jail.
Khan and seven other people, including Bollywood actors, had been accused of killing a gazelle and two antelopes over two days in 1998 while filming a movie in Rajasthan state.
Two poaching cases were filed against Khan and he was convicted by a lower court and given jail terms of one and five years respectively.
But he challenged the verdict in a higher court, which on Monday said there was no evidence to suggest the pellets recovered from the animals were fired from Khan’s licensed gun.
Khan was not present in the court in Jodhpur city, Rajasthan. The state prosecutor said the verdict would be reviewed before a decision was made on whether to appeal.
Khan, who has starred in more than 90 Hindi-language films, has had previous brushes with the law.
Last year, Mumbai’s high court acquitted the actor in a drunk-driving, hit-and-run case from more than a decade ago.
The judges found that prosecutors failed to prove charges of culpable homicide, in which they accused Khan of driving while intoxicated in 2002 and running over five men sleeping on a pavement in Mumbai, killing one of them.
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The government of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, has challenged his acquittal in the supreme court.
Last month, Khan caused a public uproar by telling reporters that shooting his new movie, Sultan, was so gruelling that he felt like a raped woman.
The analogy struck a painful chord in India, where sexual violence against women is widespread. Khan has refused to apologise for his remarks and ignored requests from India’s leading women’s rights panel, the National Commission for Women, to explain his remarks.
Khan’s comments were considered particularly damaging given his immense popularity as a romance and action star in Indian films. In recent years he has turned to philanthropy, establishing a charitable trust called Being Human, which works in education and healthcare for the poor.
Credit: The Indian Express