Rajasthan High Court: Pushpendra Singh Bhati, J., allowed a transfer petition in the infamous deer hunting case of actor Salman Khan.

An FIR was lodged with the Forest Department against Salman Khan alongwith Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Tabbsum @ Tabu, Sonali and Dushyant Singh, who, in pursuance of a complaint, were accused before the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jodhpur District, Jodhpur under the provisions of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; subsequent thereto, cognizance was taken and evidence was recorded, followed by framing of charges on 20-02-2006. After due trial, the accused – Salman Khan (present petitioner) was convicted under Section 9/51 of the Act of 1972, and a sentence of five years imprisonment was awarded to him along with a fine and the remaining accused persons were acquitted of all charges levelled against them.

Petitioner thereafter filed an appeal and the sentence was suspended during the pendency of the appeal. State, being aggrieved of the acquittal of the other accused had filed Criminal Leave to Appeal before this Court which is pending before this Court.

Counsel for the petitioner further submitted that the present petition has been preferred with the same analogy, as again, in this case the petitioner stood convicted and the other accused stood acquitted; the said conviction and acquittal both were the subject matter of the below mentioned appeals, which sought, amongst others, enhancement of the sentence:

(a) Appeal filed by Salman Khan challenging the Judgment dated April 5, 2018 passed by the Hon’ble Magistrate convicting him and sentencing him to simple imprisonment for 5 years with a fine of Rs. 10,000/- for an offence under Sections 9/51 of The Wild Life Protection Act, and the appeal filed by the complainant arising from the same judgment seeking conviction of the other accused who had been acquitted;

(b) Appeal filed by the State of Rajasthan against Mr. Salman Khan challenging the Judgement dated 18.01.2017 passed by Magistrate in Case No. 68/2011 acquitting Mr. Salman Khan for alleged offences under the Arms Act.

Court found itself in agreement with the earlier view taken by this Court while rendering the judgment of Salman Khan v. State of Rajasthan, 2011 SCC OnLine Raj 2742 whereby this Court had laid down the law that though the provision of Sections 402 & 407 of the Cr.P.C. only refer to the revisional jurisdiction but the same analogy has to be applied in criminal appeals. It was laid down that when the situation of different appeals against the same judgment or in the same matter arises for consideration, then by virtue of Sections 402 & 407 of Cr.P.C, it has to be directed that all the different appeals arising out of the same judgment should be heard and decided together.

Court was of the firm opinion that any offshoot litigation arising out of a single and common judgment, which may incongruously impact the respective parties, is bound to prejudice some of them, if different forums are adjudicating the same.

The present petition was allowed transferring both the appeals pending before the District and Sessions Judge, Jodhpur District to this High Court however making it clear that persons who have been acquitted shall not be prejudiced by this order and shall stand protected to the extent of the mandate of the precedent law.[Salman Khan v. State of Rajasthan, 2022 SCC OnLine Raj 592, decided on 21-03-2021]

For Petitioner: Mr Anand Desai, Mr Hasti Mal Saraswat, Ms Rekha Sankhla, Mr Parag Khandhar, Ms Chandrima Mitra

For Respondent: Mr Anil Joshi GA cum AAG a/w, Mr Gaurav Singh, Mr Manish Shishodia Sr. Advocate a/w, Mr Jaideep Singh Saluja, Mr Kishore Kumar Vyas on VC

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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