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Salman Khan’s Jail Term

Almost two decades after Salman Khan had shot and killed two blackbucks in Kankani village near Jodhpur, he has now been sentenced to five years in prison. This is the pace at which justice is delivered in India even in crimil cases. This much-delayed awakening to a crime committed nearly 20 years ago does not indicate that this is the only prison term he has been sentenced to. The actor had earlier spent a total of 18 days in jail in 1998, 2006 and 2007—all for cases of poaching. On Thursday, a Jodhpur court sentenced him to five years in jail and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on him. Apart from the case of killing the two blackbucks—an endangered species included in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972—Salman Khan also had a jail stint in Mumbai when he was involved in a hit-and-run case. The Toyota Land Cruiser that he was driving had allegedly crashed into the American Express Bakery at Bandra in Mumbai on September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four others. He was acquitted in the case, but the Maharashtra government has filed an appeal. This was nearly 16 years ago. The equation is clearly one of big money and a prominent actor’s precious time versus the provisions of the law. What is intriguing and highly edifying is the long duration that elapses between crime and sentence and the speed with which bails can be secured when hundreds of crores of rupees are at stake when a prominent actor is in jail. It is an equation in which money is often the clear winner and rarely the law.

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Ankur Kalita