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Black buck case: Salman gets another chance to present his side

A court trying Salman Khan in an Arms Act case related to shooting of black bucks in 1998 has given another opportunity to the actor to present his side after recording of statement, in which he pleaded innocence and alleged that he was framed by Forest officials.

After recording the statement of the actor, Chief Judicial Magistrate Anupama Bijlani on Wednesday fixed May 4 as the next date of hearing and gave Khan another opportunity to present his side in the case.

During recording of the statement, Khan had to go through the same procedure to confirm his identity, a procedure, which he has already been subjected to in the same case.

On a question about his religion, the actor said he was an “Indian”. When the court insisted, the actor said that he was both Hindu and Muslim. Later, he said that he was an actor and lives in Mumbai.

“I am an Indian,” he said first but when court demanded his practising religion, he said “I am both Hindu and Muslim as my father is Muslim and my mother is a Hindu”.

Khan also said that he was innocent and has been set up by the Forest department officials, who have produced fake witnesses.

“I am innocent. I have not committed any crime and all the witnesses are fake. I have been set up by the officials of Forest department,” Khan said in the court.

The judge then asked him if he wanted to produce facts and proofs in support of his claim, Khan replied in affirmation.

His counsel H.M. Saraswat said that they would present their side on the next hearing on May 4.

It is the second time when Khan has an opportunity of pleading innocence as after completion of the examination of all the witnesses in the case under Arms Act.

Khan has been accused of using two fire arms with alleged expired licences.

“But with the fresh examination of four new witnesses in the case followed by the plea of the prosecution, we have an opportunity to examine them and present our side in the light of allegation by these witnesses,” said Mr. Saraswat.

The case had reached the stage of judgment and the magistrate was scheduled to pronounce order on February 25 but sudden emergence of four nine years old undecided applications moved by the then public prosecutor, the judgment had to be deferred.

A case had been registered against Khan by the forest department under the Arms Act mentioning that license of the arms used by Khan during alleged poaching of black bucks at village Kankani near Jodhpur on the intervening night of 1-2 October, 1998, had expired and hence the actor had been using the arms illegally.

Black buck is a protected animal.

On April 23, the Chief Judicial Magistrate had accepted an application moved by Khan’s counsel seeking exemption from his appearance in the court on the ground of ill health, and asked him to appear today to record his statement.

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