The Supreme Court quashed on Wednesday a Rajasthan high court order staying conviction of Bollywood actor Salman Khan in the black buck hunting case. The actor was awarded five-year jail term by a trial court in 2006.
An apex court bench headed by Justice SJ Mukhopadhyay remanded the matter back to the high court for fresh consideration.
Pronouncing the verdict, justice Mukhopadhyay said the filmstar could tell the court that he would suffer irreversible damage if his conviction is not stayed and he is eventually acquitted.
The court said that the Rajasthan government, at the same time, could argue that no irreversible damage, which cannot be undone, would be caused if his conviction is not stayed.
Salman Khan, along with Sonali Bendre, Tabu, Neelam, Saif Ali Khan and others, was accused of hunting the protected black buck in Rajasthan while they were shooting for the film Hum Saath Saath Hain in 1998.
The apex court had on November 5 last year reserved its judgement after raising question on the HC decision staying the mega star's conviction without going into the merits of the case. The stay would have paved the way for Salman to get the visa to travel to the United Kingdom for professional purposes.
Salman had submitted that he would have faced hardship if his conviction would not have been stayed by the HC as it adversely affected his right to travel abroad.
The state government had approached the apex court against the HC order which had, on November 12, 2013, stayed his conviction in the case and paved the way for him to get a British visa.
Under British immigration rules, any person convicted for more than four years is not eligible for a visa. Since the actor was convicted for five years, he was denied visa by the British High Commission.
The passports of Indian convicts are stamped with the word "convict".
The blackbuck is a protected animal and its hunting is a punishable offence under Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, which states anyone hunting, killing, or trapping any wild animal may be sent to jail for three years.
(With inputs from PTI)