The Jodhpur Sessions Court on Saturday granted bail to actor Salman Khan in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case, ANI reported. Khan has to pay surety of Rs 50,000. He was released from jail around 5.30 pm, and immediately taken to the airport.

The actor cannot leave the country without the court’s permission and will have to be present for the next hearing on May 7, the lawyer of the Bishnoi community, which had lodged the complaints against the actor, said.

Earlier in the day, the prosecution argued that the actor’s bail plea application should be rejected as the accounts of eyewitnesses proved that he killed the two blackbuck. The actor’s lawyer, Mahesh Bora, argued that the eyewitness accounts were filled with several discrepancies. When the prosecution told the court that the blackbuck had gunshot wounds, Bora asked why the animals’ bones were sent for evaluation but their skins, which were just as crucial, were not.

The actor’s sisters Alvira Khan Agnihotri and Arpita Khan Sharma were present during the hearing.

District and Sessions Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi, who was told on Friday that he had been transferred, heard the arguments of the prosecution and the defence that lasted for about an hour. Joshi is among 87 sessions court judges transferred by the Rajasthan High Court. However, citing legal experts, PTI reported that sitting judges have seven days to relieve themselves of cases.

Judge Joshi had deferred the hearing on Khan’s bail plea by a day on Friday as he wanted to see all the case records before giving his verdict.

The sessions court had convicted Khan on Thursday of hunting the endangered blackbuck in Rajasthan’s Kankani village while shooting the film Hum Saath Saath Hain in 1998. This is the last of three poaching cases and an Arms Act case against Khan from 1998. The actor, who has been in jail since Thursday, has spent time in a Jodhpur jail twice in connection with the case.

Khan had been sentenced to five years in jail on Thursday. However, the co-accused in the case – actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre – were acquitted.