By Manveer Saini
CHANDIGARH: Six people were on Thursday sentenced to three years in jail in a poaching case, nearly nine years after former cricketer Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and his friend had gone on a hunting expedition in the forests of Haryana's Jhajjar district. The order was pronounced by a judge of the special environment court in Faridabad.
Since Pataudi, former captain of the Indian cricket team and father of film actor Saif Ali Khan, died in 2011, his name was removed from the list of accused.
The convicted include Shashi Singh Thakur, a friend of Pataudi's and CMD of a multinational company. Members of Pataudi's personal staff — Sayyed Ahmed, Gyasudin, Dayal Singh and Balwan Singh — along with a village watchman, Madan Singh, were also convicted.
The judge also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 each on the convicts. The sentence has been suspended for 30 days so the accused can appeal against the order.
The poaching case dates from June 5, 2005 when Pataudi and six others were stopped by the station house officer of Jhajjar and carcasses of a female blackbuck and rabbits were recovered from two vehicles the hunting party was using. A 22-bore rifle registered in the name of Pataudi's daughter Soha Ali Khan was also recovered. In 2009 Gurgaon's district magistrate had cancelled Soha's arms licence for violation of rules.
The case was first tried in the court of Jhajjar's chief judicial magistrate, but was shifted to the environment court following an appeal filed by wildlife activist Naresh Kadyan. Kadyan too was booked and tried under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act after a complaint alleged he had shifted the carcasses of the rabbits and blackbuck from Jhajjar to the New Delhi zoo for a post-mortem. He was initially censured by the court, but later acquitted.