Tiger guilty hai!
Yes, it’s off to jail for Salman Khan, who’s been convicted in the blackbuck case and also given a five-year jail sentence by the Jodhpur trial court. He will obviously ask for bail so that he doesn't spend time being bars, but the length of the sentence means he will have to go to jail at least for today.
Why? Because the punishment is more than 3 years. Which means he has to apply to the sessions court or the high court for bail. Which he can’t do today itself. His bail application should only be heard tomorrow at the earliest, so he will need to stay in jail till then. Reports are now coming in that he has made a bail application to the sessions court which will be heard on 6 April.
So what steps will he take so that he isn't karoing people’s swagat with swag in jail?
Step 1: File Appeal
To get bail, whether today or later, Salman will need to appeal against his conviction. This appeal can be filed in the sessions court or the Rajasthan High Court.
Salman has been convicted under Section 51 read with Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. This Act prohibits the hunting of a number of wildlife species, which include, you guessed it, blackbucks. He was found to have killed two blackbucks near Kankani, Rajasthan, in October 1998, while filming for Hum Saath Saath Hain.
The maximum punishment for this back then was 6 years, so it looks like his request for a lenient sentence was ignored by the judge.
His fellow actors in the movie – Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam – were also tried, but have been acquitted, since they weren’t the ones who had shot the deer.
Step 2: Apply for Suspension of Sentence
Till the appeal is decided, Salman can ask for a suspension of his sentence, so that he can’t be taken to jail if his bail is cancelled. This application needs to be made to whichever court he files his appeal in, whether it is the sessions court or the high court.
None of this is new for Salman. Back in 2006, he was convicted for hunting chinkaras, and he immediately got his 5-year sentence suspended. He was also able to do this in the hit-and-run case.
If the sentence is suspended, his TV and movie career will not be affected. Why? Money and power, of course.
Take what happened to him in the chinkara case. His sentence was suspended provided he didn’t leave the country. But all he had to do was ask the courts nicely and he was allowed to travel abroad for filming.
So, while the higher courts could attach conditions to the suspension of sentence, don't expect this to cause Bhai any inconvenience.
Step 3: Get Acquitted on Appeal
Salman's final fate will rest on what happens on his acquittal, I mean, his appeal. Ok, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be acquitted, but history shows that the appellate courts have quite a soft spot for Bhai.
Salman managed to successfully appeal against his convictions in the chinkara poaching case and the hit-and-run homicide case, with the high courts acquitting him each time.
He trots out his standard arguments of being framed and evidence being tampered which he's already raised in this case and voila!, he's free.
If the appeal fails, he will have to go to jail if he can’t get bail. Of course, he will still be able to approach the high court or the Supreme Court for a second appeal if the conviction is upheld.
End result? You can convict Bhai of whatever you want at trial, but don't expect that it means he'll go to jail.
Cameraperson: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam