Blackbuck poaching case: Salman Khan granted bail by Jodhpur court

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Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was on Saturday granted bail after spending two nights in the Jodhpur Central Jail as a convict in the 20-year-old blackbuck poaching case.

Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi, who began hearing his bail request this morning for the second day, announced his decision just after lunch.

But Mr. Khan appealed the decision, and the sentence was suspended.

All the Salman Khan fans who were praying for his release can now sigh in relief as the actor has been granted bail by Jodhpur High Court on the surety of Rs 50,000. And hoards of supporters and fans thronged the jail premises with, singing and dancing.

After hearing Salman's bail plea for about 40 minutes, the court chose to pronounce its order on Saturday.

Khan was found guilty under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of killing two endangered blackbuck antelope in 1998.

Criminal courts later acquitted Khan's hunting companions, but Khan remains accused of the crime of poaching. In the 1998 poaching case alone, he's spent a total of 18 days in prison, doing time in 1998, 2006 and 2007 before being released.

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While convicting Salman, the trial court acquitted his Bollywood colleagues Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre and a local, Dushyant Singh, giving them the "benefit of doubt" for the incident.

In another development, Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri, who had sentenced Khan to five years in jail, has also been replaced by another magistrate. Later the same night, he was among the 87 judicial officers who were transferred in what was described as a routine administrative measure.

On Friday, the actor's lawyer Mahesh Bora had filed his bail application.

The two other Khans of Bollywood - Shah Rukh and Aamir, have not commented on the verdict yet. After Salman's bail, his friends and well-wishers from the film industry expressed their happiness.

Coming to his professional commitments, Salman Khan will wrap up the shoot of Remo D'Souza's Race 3 before starting with Arbaaz Khan's Dabangg 3 and Alvira Agnihotri's Bharat.

"The accused is a popular actor whose deeds are followed by people". Several policemen and security vehicles followed Salman's auto to ensure safety and security.