Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, who spent the last two nights in Jodhpur Central Jail over the blackbuck poaching case, is set to walk out of jail this evening.
Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi, who began hearing his bail request this morning, has ordered his release on bail.
Salman Khan has been told to file a personal bail bond for Rs. 50,000 and produce a Rs. 25,000 surety from two persons each who will guarantee that he will comply with all bail conditions.
The bail documents would be sent to Jodhpur Central Jail by around 5 pm and he could be released in the next hour or two. But he can't leave the country without the court's permission.
The 52-year-old actor was sentenced to five years for killing two blackbucks 20 years ago in Kankani village, near Jodhpur in Rajasthan, during the shooting of a multi-starrer, "Hum Saath Saath Hain".
His co-actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam Kothari and Sonal Bendre, who were in the SUV that the Dabangg star was driving during their alleged late night hunting outing, were, however, acquitted by the Jodhpur sessions court.
In the hearing today, the prosecution talked about the credibility of the witnesses and hinged the case on the post-mortem report which said that the blackbucks had gunshot wounds. However, Salman's lawyers argued that only the bones of the animals were sent for evaluation when their skins, as crucial, weren't. They asked for bail on grounds that the witnesses against him weren't reliable.
Judge Joshi, who is in the middle of the annual reshuffle of judges in Rajasthan, had, on Friday, put off the hearing by a day as he wanted to go through the entire case record before making a decision. He will be replaced by Chandra Kumar Songara, district and sessions judge of Bhilwara within the next week.
On Thursday, Judge Dev Kumar Khatri had convicted Salman Khan for poaching two endangered blackbucks in 1998. The case against him was brought by members of the Bishnoi community, who revere antelopes. The community has pursued the case for almost two decades and welcomed his conviction.
In the numerous hearings over the years, the actor and his counsels insisted that he was being framed. Reports that the animals died of "overeating" or that they were killed by dogs were also submitted in court to establish his innocence.
In an interview in 2009, Salman Khan had told NDTV that he had "saved the deer" and fed it biscuits. "We saw a fawn caught in a bush. He was petrified. I took him out of there, gave him some water. The whole herd was there. (The fawn) ate a few biscuits and went away".