Jodhpur (Rajasthan): Actor Salman Khan was Tuesday given exemption from appearance by a court here during the hearing of an appeal by him against the five-year sentence in the October 1998 blackbuck poaching case. Additional District and Sessions Judge Brajesh Panwar granted the relief after Salman Khan’s counsel cited the ‘rising’ number of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai. He said that travelling for the hearing could be risky for Salman Khan. The court has fixed January 16 for the next hearing.
“We prayed to the court that travelling to Jodhpur from Mumbai and appearing in the court when the cases of COVID-19 infection have been rising in both places could be risky for him,” Salman’s counsel HM Saraswat said. “Accepting our ground, the court allowed our application for exemption from appearance and listed the matter for hearing on January 16,” he added.
Before the coronavirus lockdown in March, the court had directed Salman to appear for the hearing. Since the lockdown, Khan has sought exemption from appearance citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The actor was sentenced to five years imprisonment by the trial court April 5, 2018 after he was convicted of poaching a blackbuck, an endangered animal.
Salman had challenged the judgment in the District and Sessions Court and sought suspension of sentence. Later, he was granted bail by the court.
The co-accused in the case, actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam, had, however, been acquitted by the trial court which gave them the benefit of doubt. The Rajasthan government has challenged their acquittal in the upper court.