Bollywood star Salman Khan was on Wednesday acquitted in an Arms Act case which charged him with possessing and using unlicensed weapon to allegedly kill black bucks in Jodhpur in 1998.
Chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Dalpat Singh Rajpurohit said the prosecution had failed to prove both the charges against him.
A case of possessing arms—.32 US-made revolver and .22 rifle—whose licence had expired, was filed at the Luni police station of Jodhpur district on October 15, 1998, days after he was charged with poaching chinkaras in Bhawad and Ghora, and black bucks in Kankani.
Rajasthan high court had acquitted him in the two chinkaras case in July last year. The black buck case is in the final stages of trial.
Salman Khan, who was present in the court along with his sister Alvira, took to Twitter to thank his fans for their good wishes and prayers.
“Thank you for all the support and good wishes,” he tweeted.
The CJM observed the charges were framed against Salman Khan by the then district magistrate Rajat Kumar Mishra under section 3/25 of Arms Act for possessing arms despite licence expiry.
Holding that section 25 of the Act provided for conviction for violation of section 21—not surrendering armsto nearest police station despite licence expiry—the court noted that offence was lodged under section 3/25 and failed to justify the section.
It said Mishra had granted prosecution sanction “without applying his mind”. Had he studied the case properly, “the accused would not have had to face trial”, the court said.
Also, the sanction has no mention of the place and date of arms in possession, and that created doubt, it noted.
The judgement further observed that the seized arms were later renewed, and as per norms, such armsare believed to be legal since the day their licence expired.
It also noted that the contradiction between evidences and witnesses did not prove that the same arms were used to poach the black bucks.
In the black bucks poaching case, the CJM court has summoned six accused, including Salman Khan, on January 25 for recording their statements.
The charges were framed against Salman Khan when he was reportedly on a hunting trip in Jodhpur where he was filming ‘Hum Saath Saath Hai’ along with his co-stars Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam, Sonali Bendre, Dushyant and Dinesh Ganware.