New Delhi, Mar 21 (PTI) : Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt has to go back to jail for a little over three years, with the Supreme Court on Thursday upholding his conviction in a case related to the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. Dutt has already served one-and-a-half years in jail and was out on bail.
The Supreme Court reduced the original six-year term awarded to Dutt by a designated court under the Terrorist & Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act or TADA in 2006, but ruled out his release on probation because of the “serious” nature of his offence.
Dutta, 53, son of the famous Bollywood couple, the late Sunil Dutt and Nargis, ended up before the TADA court for having procured some weapons, ostensibly for self-protection, from a Bollywood filmmaker.
The weapons turned out to be part of an arsenal including explosives smuggled into the country for use in the Mumbai blasts, in which 257 people were killed and over 700 injured on March 12, 1993.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan upheld the death sentence of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, brother of one of the absconding main conspirators Tiger Memon, and life sentences of 16 of the 18 convicts.
The death sentence of 10 others was commuted to life sentence by the court, which directed that they are to remain in prison till death.
The life sentence of one Ashrafur Rehman Azimulla was reduced to 10 years while Imtiyaz Yunusmiya Ghavte was set free with the court reducing the sentence to jail term already undergone.
”The circumstances and the nature of the offence is so serious that we are of the view that he (Sanjay Dutt) cannot take the benefit of provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act to release him on probation,” the bench said.
”We reduce the punishment of six years to minimum of five years under the Arms Act,” the bench said and directed him to surrender within four weeks.
Sanjay Dutt's lawyer Satish Maneshinde said he has spoken to the actor who told him that he was strong enough to go through whatever the court has asked him to undergo.
“He has accepted the judgement,” he said adding “he will go through the verdict and will consider all the legal recourses available to him”.
The apex court concurred with the conclusion arrived at by the designated TADA court saying that it had adopted the “correct procedure” while awarding the sentence to Dutt.
“We are in agreement with conclusion arrived at by the designated TADA court that had rejected the arguments of the appellant Sanjay Dutt,” the bench said.
“We are of the view that the trial court adopted the correct procedure and the decision arrived at by it was correct,” it said and directed Dutt to surrender within four weeks from today.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), RDX had come from Pakistan in boats and had landed in Dighy and Shekhadi coasts in Raigad district in January and February 1993. Besides, weapons had also landed and were collected by Tiger's men.
One of the weapons was given to actor Sanjay Dutt by Bollywood film makers Samir Hingora and Hanif Kadawala.
The apex court modified the nine-year jail term awarded by TADA court to Hingora to the jail term already undergone.
Hingora had supplied AK-56 rifles, magazines, cartridges and hand grenades, which were part of the illegal consignment to be used in the blasts, at Sanjay Dutt's Pali Hill residence and has spent six and half years in jail.