The Rajasthan High Court on Friday exempted B-Town actor Salman Khan from appearing in person before the District and Sessions Court in Jodhpur for the hearing on appeals in the blackbuck poaching case that has been scheduled for the weekend.
The actor had moved the court, a day earlier, seeking exemption from appearing in person to furnish the bail bond in the poaching case and rather appear in the proceedings virtually from Mumbai itself. The court has therefore permitted Khan to appear for the hearing via video conferencing on February 6.
Covid restrictions on court hearings
After 17 exemptions in the hearing of the case, the session judge had ordered Khan to appear in court in person in the upcoming hearing on Saturday. But Salman's counsel H M Saraswat filed an application to the High Court to seek permission for his client's appearance via video conferencing from Mumbai.
In addition, the lawyer said that the physical presence of the Bollywood actor draws a huge crowd of his fans in the court premises, causing not only law and order problems but other litigants to face trouble. And especially amid the pandemic situation, there is a risk of infection from the crowd.
Saraswat said that the application first moved the High Court with a prayer that Khan be permitted to appear for hearing via video conferencing.
However, refusing to intervene on Khan's plea that Section 437A of Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC) be held unconstitutional, the division bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Manoj Kumar Garg, after hearing the plea, allowed the petitioner to execute and submit bail bond and sureties through video conferencing.
Section 437A of the CrPC rules that before conclusion of the trial and disposal of the appeal, the court trying the offence shall require the accused person to execute bail bonds with sureties, to appear before the higher court as and when notice in respect of any appeal or petition filed against the judgment.
Khan's failure to appear in court
It should be noted that the hearing in the blackbuck poaching case is for two appeals; one by Khan challenging his five-year sentence by a trial court in a case of poaching two blackbucks while the other by the Rajasthan government challenging the acquittal of co-accused Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam, Sonali Bendre and a local person Dushyant Singh for being with Khan while poaching two of the endangered species during the shooting of 'Hum Saath Saath Hain' in 1997.
The actor has already failed 15 times to appear for the hearing of this case since last year following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
But he has apologized five times to the court for not appearing priortising safety purposes.
Earlier in December 2020 as well, Saraswat had appealed to the court for Khan's absence in the hearing that was scheduled at a time when Rajasthan was witnessing a massive increase in Covid-19 infections, as a result the court had agreed and adjourned the hearing till January 16, directing for the personal appearance of the petitioner once again.