Salman Khan’s Acquittal: Who Will Answer These Questions?

Salman Khan Poaching Case

Salman Khan Poaching Case

The Twitteratti went buzzing on Monday, the 25th of July, 2016, with comments and questions like “Now that Salman ‘Sultan’ Khan has been acquitted in blackbuck case & Narsingh Yadav has dope taint, can we send Khan to Olympics?”, “Congratulations #Salmankhan , I always knew it was not u but the #blackbuck who was driving the Car. Well done #SupremeCourt”. Yes, Salman Khan has been acquitted by the Rajasthan High Court in two 1998 chinkara poaching cases, while the case of the poaching of the blackbuck still remains pending. Salman Khan had been accused of killing a blackbuck and a chinkara in two separate incidents in the outskirts of Jodhpur in 1998 while he was shooting for the movie “Hum Saath Saath  Hain”.

What do we know about the animals that were poached?

Before we dwell into the case, let’s know more about the wild animals that were killed in cold blood, just for game.


Chinkara or the Indian Gazelle is an endangered species, and is protected under Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The gazelle species are native to Iran, Pakistan and India. They mate only once a year and multiply at a slow pace. Chinkaras are preyed upon by wild animals such as leopards and Bengal Tigers. They are very shy animals and stay away from human habitat. But unfortunately, along with the fear of being hunted down by wild animals, the Chinkara need also to fear poachers who kill for game and not food.


The blackbuck is an Indian antelope found in India and the sole extant member of the genus Antilope. The lifespan of a blackbuck is 10 to 15 years and while they mate through the year, the gestation period is 6 months after which only one calf is born. Due to heavy poaching of this animal, it has become extinct in Bangladesh and can now be found only in India. It was formerly widespread, but now its number is decreased and they can be found in scattered groups in protected areas. The blackbuck is also protected under Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

The Wildlife Protection Act has provisions for the protection of animals, birds and plants and extends throughout India except for Jammu and Kashmir, which has its own wildlife act. As per the proviso of the act, the punishment for poaching of the animals falling under Schedule 1, as in the case of chinkara and blackbuck, is a minimum of 3 years imprisonment which can be extended up to 7 years along with a fine of Rs 10, 000/-.

The Case against Salman Khan

Salman Khan was accused of hunting two chinkaras in Bhawad village on September 26-27, 1998 and one in Mathania on September 28-29, 1998. The case developed as follows:

  • Two separate cases were registered against Salman Khan under Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) gave a sentence of 1 and 5 years of imprisonment respectively with a fine of Rs 25,000, in 2006.
  • The sessions court dismissed Salman Khan’s appeal on the verdict.
  • Salman Khan then challenged the decision of the CJM through a criminal revision petition in the  Rajasthan High Court.
  • The High Court observed that the complainant, Harish Dulani, who was also the eye witness to the alleged crime committed, was not available for cross examination by the defence counsel. This put doubts on the eye witness himself.
  • The High Court also observed that the pellets found in the vehicle used by Salman Khan did not match the ones found in his room.
  • Moreover, the pellets found in the vehicle are used only for hunting small animals and birds and could not have killed a chinkara.
  • There was also no recovery of a carcass or post mortem done.
  • Based on the aforesaid observations, the High Court on Monday acquitted Salman Khan of the charges against him.
  • While Hastimal Saraswat, the defence counsel reiterated that Salman Khan was innocent and had received justice, State Law Minister Rajendra Rathore said the State government would study the judgement before deciding whether the appeal against it should be filed in the High Court’s Division Bench or the Supreme Court.
  • The case against Salman Khan for poaching of an endangered blackbuck in Kankani village and possession of illegal arms, is still pending.

Questions and Doubts

A number of benefits of doubt helped he actor pull off the case, but with his acquittal these questions still remain unanswered:

  • Where is the eye witness Harish Dulani? Why was he unavailable for the cross examination?
  • Why was the carcass missing? The post mortem could not be done because of  the missing carcass.
  • Did the police and the forest department fudge up the crucial evidence that would have incriminated Salman Khan?
  • Were the key witnesses including the eye witness Harish Dulani manipulated?

Salman Khan has been in news also for the hit and run case of 2002 for which he was acquitted by the Bombay High Court last year. Supreme Court is hearing a petition against Khan’s acquittal by Bombay HC. In India, where one is presumed not guilty until proven, it seems as though the rich and the famous walk away from crimes committed without an iota of guilt. Twitter was abuzz with reactions from the GenY. Here are a few of them:

  • #SalmanKhan is the real ambassador of technological development in India. Driver-less cars, Self-firing guns !!!
  • No one killed the deer. No one killed those on the footpath. They just disappeared.#SalmanVerdict #SalmanKhan
  • India is the only Country in the world where Terrorists are called Freedom Fighters and Convicted Stars are treated as Gods…!! #SalmanKhan