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Supreme Court sets aside stay on Salman Khan's conviction

New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) In a setback to filmstar Salman Khan, the Supreme Court Wednesday set aside the Rajasthan High Court order putting on hold his conviction in the blackbuck hunting case, and asked the high court to consider the matter afresh.

The high court Nov 12, 2013 had suspended the conviction of Salman Khan in the blackbuck hunting case on the filmstar’s plea that it was coming in the way of the UK Border Agency issuing him visa to travel to Britain for a film shoot.

Salman Khan was convicted in the blackbuck hunting case April 10, 2006.

Britain’s immigration rules say “entry clearance to the UK is to be refused if an applicant has been convicted of an offence for which he has been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least 4 years”.

The apex court bench of Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel sent the matter back to the high court for fresh consideration.

“It would be open to the respondent (Salman Khan) to show that if the order of conviction is not stayed it will cause irreversible consequences/injustice to him which cannot be undone if he ultimately succeeds,” the apex court said.

“It would be open to the state (of Rajasthan) to oppose such prayer on the ground that non-suspension of conviction will not cause any irreversible consequences or injustice to the respondent and the same can be undone if he (Salman Khan) ultimately succeeds.”

The apex court verdict came on a plea by the Rajasthan government challenging the high court order.

Pronouncing the verdict, Justice Mukhopadhaya said: “If some foreign country is not granting permission to visit the said country on the ground that the respondent (Salman Khan) has been convicted of an offence and has been sentenced for five years of imprisonment under the Indian law, the said order cannot be a ground to stay the order of conviction.”

“If an order of conviction in any manner is causing irreversible consequences or injustice to the respondent (Salman Khan), it was open to the court to consider the same.

“If the court comes to a definite conclusion that the irreversible consequences/injustice would cause to the accused which could not be restored, it was well within the domain of the court to stay the conviction.”

The apex court also noted that the high court while passing its order did not give any finding that “if the conviction is not stayed, irreparable harm/irreversible consequences or injustice would be caused to the respondent (Salman Khan)”.

The high court stayed the order of conviction “mainly on the ground that the conviction is coming in respondent’s way to travel abroad which has resulted in negating the order granting him permission to go abroad”.

The high court Feb 21, 2011 modified its Aug 31, 2007 order and allowed Salman Khan to travel abroad without its prior permission.

While granting him bail, the high court in August 2007 had said Salman Khan shall not leave the country without the court’s prior permission.

Noting that more than a year has passed since the high court passed the order putting on hold the conviction, the apex court said: “There is nothing on record to suggest that the respondent (Salman Khan) has again to visit UK for further shooting of any film/movie.”

Salman Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu, Neelam and others were accused of hunting the protected blackbuck in Rajasthan during the shooting of “Hum Saath Saath Hain”.

He was convicted by a trial court April 10, 2006, under the Wild Life (Protection) Act and was awarded five years’ jail and a fine of Rs.25,000.

A sessions judge Aug 24, 2007, upheld the conviction and sentence as it dismissed his appeal against the trial court order.

The Rajasthan High Court by its order of Aug 31, 2007, suspended his sentence, and Nov 12, 2013, suspended the order of conviction as it came in the way of Salman Khan’s travel to Britain.

A police complaint was lodged Oct 2, 1998 against Salman Khan and the others for hunting the Krishnamriga (blackbuck) deer on the midnight of Sep 28, 1998, within the limits of Mathania village.

Salman Khan was arrested Oct 12, 1998, got bail Oct 15 and was released Oct 17.

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