The Jodhpur bench of the Rajasthan High Court today issued fresh notices to actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam Kothari and Tabu in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case following an appeal by the state government against their acquittal.
A single judge bench of Justice Manoj Garg issued notices to the actors following an appeal by the Rajasthan government against their acquittal by a Chief Judicial Magistrate's (CJM) court on April 5 last year.
Notice was also issued to Dushyant Singh who was allegedly accompanying the actors when the poaching took place.
Justice Garg has directed that the case be listed for hearing after eight weeks.
The high court had on March 11 issued notices to the five respondents on the state government's appeal challenging their acquittal in the case. The notice was based on an appeal by Rajasthan government challenging their acquittal in the case by a local court. Only Salman Khan was convicted in the case.
In September 2018, it was reported that the state government intended to appeal before the Jodhpur High Court against the exoneration of the four co-accused. Officials said that along with them, the appeal will also request that Dinesh Gawre, who was also charged in the case and is missing for a long time, be tried as an accused.
Trouble for the acquitted actors, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali, Neelam and Tabu, increased after the appeal which was filed in Rajasthan High Court. The actors were charged for provoking Salman Khan for shooting a Black Buck late on the intervening night of October 1 and 2, 1998.
In April 2018, CJM rural court had given a decision that only Salman Khan was guilty in this case and handed him prison for 5 years, acquitting all the other celebrities.
After this, the prosecution gave an application to the government to appeal against the decision in the High Court for which approval has been given now, and accordingly, an appeal has been made. It is possible that a hearing on this appeal will take place in this week only.
This case has been filed 20 years ago in October 1998 when Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre were in Jodhpur for shooting the film 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'. At that time Bishnoi community people had alleged that Salman Khan had hunted two Black Bucks in the village Jankari which is a few kilometres away from Jodhpur city in Rajasthan.
Then, on October 12, 1998 Salman Khan has been arrested for poaching of endangered species and then got bail. Then, in April 2006, he got a sentence of 5 years and a fine was imposed of Rs 25000. At that time he had been in jail for a week and got bail in the appeal of suspension of sentence.