New Delhi: In a major relief to Actor Salman Khan, Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the petition filed by Rajasthan government seeking addition of rioting charge (Section 146, IPC) against him and others in the black buck case.

The charge under the Wildlife Protection Act has been retained against all the five accused. The Sessions judge discharged them of charge under sections 146 (rioting) and 147 (punishment for rioting) (under the IPC) and the Revision court (HC) also upheld it," a bench of justices P Sathasivam, JS Khehar and Vikramajit Sen said.

Apart from Salman Khan, actor Saif Ali Khan, actress Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam have also been provided the same relief from the Apex Court. Although, Salman Khan and others will continue to face charges under Wildlife Conservation Act.

During the hearing, the counsel for the state government said that the charge has wrongly been dropped against them as the said provision talked about the violence which can be used against anything such as property and animal. The violence should not necessarily be undertaken against human beings.

The stars have been accused of poaching two Black Bucks in the intervening night of 1-2 October, 1998 in Kankani village near Jodhpur during the shooting of the movie 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'.

Earlier, the Rajasthan High Court had dropped rioting charge against the actor and others accused in the case.

The High Court had said that Khan would be charged under Section 51 of Wildlife Act and Section 149 of the IPC (Unlawful assembly). Section 51 of Wildlife Act entails jail sentence up to three years or fine or both.
    
Other actors have been booked under section 52 (attempts to contravene, or abet the contravention of, any of the provisions) of Wildlife Act and section 149 of the IPC. against others.
    
The state government had moved the High Court in 2006 against dropping of some charges against Salman and others. After six years, the High Court, on July 24, 2012, upheld the lower court's decision on it. The lower court had framed charges under sections of Wildlife Act, the Arms Act and the IPC against Salman Khan and the others.
    
Besides the present case, Salman Khan has been convicted for 1 year and 5 years for poaching of two Chinkaras at Bhawad and one Black Buck at Ghoda Farm (Mathania) in the intervening night of 26-27 September, 1998 and 28-29 September, 1998 respectively.
    
Appeals against these sentences both by Salman Khan and state government are pending in the high court.

JPN/Agencies

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