In a relief to actor Aamir Khan and four others, the Gujarat High Court quashed a case against them of illegal commercial filming of Chinkara, a protected animal, during the shoot of movie "Lagaan" in Kutch.
Acting chief justice of Gujarat high court VM Sahai, pronouncing the verdict on Friday, said the case of criminal complaint against Khan and others before chief judicial magistrate of Bhuj is quashed and set aside.
"It is the rarest of the rare case when an FIR was filed on no evidence against them...it was filed on the basis of imagination of the complainant," the court order said.
The court observed that no live chinkara was used or was in the possession of the petitioner and the footage of Chinkara in the film was computer-generated.
"It is hazardous as a fictional criminal complaint has to be taken by court when a large number of real complaint are pending," the court observed.
"Such frivolous complaint is eating the time of the court and it does not look good on the part of the state," it further said. The High Court had, on June 27 last year, initiated final hearing on Khan's plea filed in April 2008, which sought quashing of the proceedings initiated by the judicial magistrate of Bhuj district against Khan and four others for alleged breach of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
Under the Wildlife(Protection) Act, commercial filming of chinkara without permission is illegal. Gujarat forest department had filed the complaint against Khan and others for allegedly filming Chinkara in 'Lagaan', shooting for which was held mostly in Kutch in 2000.
As per the complaint, Chinkara's footage was taken without the prior permission of the forest department.
The judicial magistrate of Bhuj had in March 2008 issued bailable warrants against Khan, his former wife Reena Dutta, director Ashutosh Gowarikar, executive director Srinivas Rao and cinematographer Ashok Mehta.
Khan and four others then secured a stay from the High Court on the warrants. The actor's lawyer had contended that the computer-generated images of the animal were used in the film and not the shots of a real animal.
A real chinkara was never filmed as the permission for it was denied. The forest department had earlier closed the matter after conducting a preliminary inquiry in the year 2000. However, the forest department had to reopen the case after a fresh complaint was filed by Amit Jethwa - an RTI activist. Jethwa was later shot dead in 2010.