Salman Khan has now been acquitted in three cases and effectively one person and two black bucks have had their lives extinguished mysteriously by the universe with no evidence on who was behind it.
Khan has had the odds and public opinion stacked against him when he was accused of illegal hunting and being involved in a hit-and-run accident while driving drunk. Presently, he's unscathed and makes films are the undisputed top money makers in the Hindi film industry.
But if you look a little closer, there are stunning similarities between the hit-and-run and the poaching cases in which he has been acquitted. Here are some of them:
Prime witness problems:
Both cases had the same problem, a prime witness on whom the case rested but fell through.
In the chinkara case, the prime witness was Harish Dulani, the driver of the vehicle that was allegedly used in the hunt. Dulani gave a sworn statement before a magistrate but was never examined by the actor's lawyers giving them the chance to discredit his statement before the high court. The high court while acquitting Khan said that because Khan's lawyers had never examined him, Dulani's testimony couldn't be considered.
In the 2002 hit-and-run case it was police bodyguard Ravindra Patil, who was Salman Khan's bodyguard and in the car when the accident took place. He gave a sworn statement before a magistrate, vanished during the trial, got dismissed from duty, stood by his statement and then died poor and lonely. He never testified in the retrial.
After his death his statement was rejected by the Bombay High Court which said he wasn't a wholly reliable witness. It said that he had modified his statements regarding Khan being drunk and about warning him about driving too fast. The court said there just wasn't enough other evidence to corroborate Patil's statements.
The good friend who keeps mum
In the chinkara case, actor Saif Ali Khan was said to have been part of the hunt along with the female star cast of the insufferable Hum Saath Saath Hain. Their names were dropped from the case due to lack of evidence and not one of them ever spoke out against the alleged hunt carried out by the actor.
In the hit-and-run case it was singer-actor Kamaal Khan. He was in the car with Salman, was there when the accident took place but mysteriously was never brought on as a witness. He gave an address in London that multiple summons went to, but he never answered any of them.
The Bombay High Court also noted it was unusual that a crucial witness in the case like Khan was never made to depose before a court. Kamaal has kept mum till date and Salman Khan's definitely not complaining.
Long long trials:
In the hit-and-run case, Salman Khan actually faced two trials over 13 years. One trial was conducted by a magistrate's court from 2002 and then the case was transferred to a session's court in 2013. He was convicted in May 2015 and acquitted the same year in December.
The alleged chinkara killings took place in 1998. The trial court verdict came out in 2006. The high court verdict in 2016. The trial so far has taken 18 years.
One trial will continue in the Supreme Court and the other is most likely too.
Benefit of doubt:
In the hit-and-run and chinkara cases the actor has been let off for the same reason: benefit of doubt.
In both cases the respective high courts have observed that the actor couldn't be convicted due to a lack of evidence. In the case of the hit-and-run the high court said there was insufficient evidence to prove that the actor was behind the wheel when the accident took place or the fact that he was drunk at the time.
In the chinkara hunting case, the court noted there was no evidence to even suggest that the endangered animal had been killed. The bullets didn't match and there was no carcass of the animals found. So if there's no proof it's killed, how can Salman Khan be convicted for killing it? Hence, the actor was released.
And thanks to these verdicts we will continue to get more of this: