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What is Salman Khan guilty of? A 10-point guide to the law that landed the Bollywood star in jail

The law allowed a harsher punishment for the offence that Salman was found guilty of.

What is Salman Khan guilty of? A 10-point guide to the law that landed the Bollywood star in jail
A court in Jodhpur pronounced Salman Khan guilty on Thursday. (Reuters)

NEW DELHI: Salman Khan has been found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Jodhpur in the blackbuck poaching case. His conviction came under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

Here is a 10-point guide to understanding what Salman Khan was convicted for:

1.     Salman was convicted under Section 9 of the WPA.

2.     The text of this section reads, "Prohibition of Hunting. No person shall hunt any wild animal specified in Schedule I, II, III and IV except as provided under section 11 and section 12." Salman Khan was found guilty of hunting an animal listed in Schedule I.

3.     Schedule I is the highest level of protection that an animal can have under Indian law. It is this Schedule that provides ultimate protection to the National Animal (Royal Bengal Tiger), National Bird (Peafowl), other important animals like the Indian Lion and endangered species such as the Olive Ridley Turtle.

4.     Schedules II, III and IV offer differing levels of protection to the animals and plants listed in them. The penalties for harming or killing these animals vary in severity with each Schedule.

5.     The Blackbuck (Antelope cervicapra) is protected under the Schedule I. It is the second animal on the alphabetical list.

6.     Sections 11 and 12 create exemptions for reasons of safety and scientific study. They give certain government officials the power to give permission to hunt animals that pose a threat to human life, for eg a man-eating tiger or lion. It also provides officials the power to give permission to hunt animals to be studied as part of scientific research or for the conservation. These exemptions clearly do not apply to Salman Khan's case.

7.     Section 51 of the WPA lays out the penalties for any offences committed under the law. The basic punishment under this section is either imprisonment that can extend to three years or a fine of up to Rs 25,000, or both. But it is not under this provision that Salman Khan was given the 5-year sentence.

8.     The judge could have given Salman Khan a sentence of 6 years, but gave him only 5 years. He also slapped a Rs 10,000 fine on the Bollywood star.

9.     The provision that allowed the judge to sentence Salman to jail for 5 years to "… where the offence committed is in relation to any animal specified in Scheduled I…, such offence shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than [one year] but may extend to six years and also with fine which shall not be less than [five thousand rupees]."

10.    Another provision of Section 51 also ensures that Salman Khan cannot get any leniency for good behaviour, a good track record of public service or any other factor that is not connected with the crime. These concessions are allowed in Section 360 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and under The Probation of Offenders Act of 1958.