In a setback to Bollywood star Salman Khan, the Supreme Court today set aside the Rajasthan High Court order suspending his conviction in the black buck hunting case, which would bar him from travelling to some foreign countries like United Kingdom which in the past had denied him visa.
The High Court had provided Salman the relief after he had submitted that the conviction was coming in his way to travel abroad as authorities of the UK were denying him visa on the ground that he has been held guilty in a criminal case and a mere suspension of five years jail term and bail was of no help.
“If some foreign country is not granting permission to visit the said country on the ground that the respondent (Salman) 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,” a bench comprising Justices S J Mukhopadhyay and Adarsh Kumar Goel, said.
While finding fault with November 12, 2013, verdict of the High Court, the bench said “if an order of conviction in any manner is causing irreversible consequences or injustice to the respondent (Salman), 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.
“No such ground has been shown by the High Court while passing the impugned order. Further, we find that now more than one year has passed and there is nothing on record to suggest that the respondent has again to visit UK for further shooting of any film/movie,” the bench said.
While quashing the judgement and order of the Jodhpur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court, the apex court remitted the case back to the High Court to decide the matter afresh.
“It would be open to the respondent (Salman) 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.
“It would be open to the State 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 ultimately succeeds,” the bench said.
The bench had on November 5 last year reserved its judgement after raising question on the High Court’s decision staying the mega star’s conviction without going into the merits of the case and just to pave the way for him to get visa to travel to the United Kingdom for professional reasons.
Salman had submitted that he would have faced hardship if his conviction would not have been stayed by the high court as it adversely affected his right to travel abroad.
The state government had approached the apex court against the High Court order which had stayed his 2006 conviction in the case and paved the way for him to get a British visa.
Under British immigration rules, any person convicted for more than four years is not eligible for a visa. Since the actor was convicted for five years, he was denied visa by the British Embassy.
The passports of Indian convicts are stamped with the word “convict.”
Black buck is a protected animal and its hunting is a punishable offence.
Khan was convicted and sentenced to one-year and five- year prison terms in separate cases of poaching of two Chinkaras at Bhawad and one black buck at Ghoda Farm (Mathania) on the intervening night of September 26-27, 1998 and September 28-29, 1998 respectively.
The actor had approached the High Court in 2007 seeking a stay on his conviction by a trial court so that he could file a fresh application for a British visa.
Besides Khan, actors Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam were accused of poaching near Jodhpur during the shooting of the film ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’.