Karan Johar and Hrithik Roshan arrive to meet Sanjay Dutt on Friday. (Fotocorp)
Mumbai, March 22: Lawyers advising Sanjay Dutt are increasingly feeling that too many cooks may spoil his broth.
The actor has been seeking advice from not only lawyers outside his current legal team but also from friends, family and even astrologers.
On Friday, Suresh Kalmadi’s Mumbai-based lawyer Hitesh Jain was brought in.
Jain has advised Sanjay to seek a suspension of the Supreme Court order from the governor. Unlike a sweeping pardon, suspension means holding the sentence in abeyance so that it can be activated if any other offence is committed.
“The film fraternity will approach the governor of Maharashtra on Monday to seek abeyance of the Supreme Court verdict sentencing Sanjay Dutt to a five-year jail term. They will cite his good conduct and request the governor to suspend the apex court order. They hope the governor will take a lenient view of the matter — especially since a lot of money is riding on him,” said a Sanjay family source.
Jain told The Telegraph that if a fraternity — in this case the movie community — approached the governor and assured him that he would abide by the law in future, the governor could consider the plea.
“Sanjay listened to my advice. He has a large fan base. Everybody could come together and approach the governor for a suspension,” Jain said.
He said that a call for pardon or clemency may stir controversy. “That is why I have advised Dutt to seek the help of society and the film fraternity to request the governor for a suspension of the verdict,” Jain added.
Following Sanjay’s wife Maanyata’s advice, his publicists have launched an unofficial campaign on Twitter and Facebook seeking clemency. “His fans are expected to be roped in. Some politicians are also by his side,” said a source. A Bollywood march seeking relief is also being talked about.
But some words of caution are also trickling in. Sources said at least three top Mumbai lawyers have advised the Dutts not to do or say anything that may be seen as a contempt of the court and humbly accept the verdict while quietly seeking options.
Sanjay himself has been largely a non-participant in these conversations and advice-peddling.
“He sat quietly, looking blank, listening to everything and not making any comment. His only refrain is ‘I don’t want to go back to prison’,” said a family source.
Actors Hrithik Roshan and Ajay Devgn were by Sanjay’s side at his Pali Hill residence in Mumbai through the larger part of the day. Filmmaker Karan Johar also spent considerable time with him.
“It was in the presence of some visitors that lawyers visiting him were placing their legal advice. As professionals, they can only give advice and point to him the legal remedies available. The final call is with him. Or rather, as it seems, with his friends and family,” said a source who visited Sanjay today.
The source claimed to have come across some “outlandish” suggestions from some friends but declined to elaborate.
The source said Maanyata was also consulting top Bollywood astrologers.
“Day before the judgment came, Sanju’s lawyers had called him around 6pm when he was at a shoot and told him that it was unlikely he would get a favourable verdict and he should prepare himself. Sanjay had broken down on the sets of Policegiri where he was shooting a song with (actress) Prachi Desai,” said a source in the production unit of the film. Sanjay had left immediately after, without finishing the song.
On Friday, the film’s producer T.P. Agarwal was supposed to meet the actor to chalk out a schedule to finish the shoot before the official time for Sanjay to surrender runs out in four weeks.
“Sanju could not meet him. But they spoke on the phone, he has assured him that if possible tonight, or on Saturday, he would get back to work,” said a Sanjay aide.
“Meetings with other producers were cancelled, too, after Devgn called Sanjay on Friday morning and brought in his lawyer friend Hitesh Jain to advice Sanjay,” he added.
Sanjay’s lawyers are proposing that he apply for a review petition but friends in influential places are clamouring for a pardon from the Maharashtra governor, K. Shankaranarayanan.
Top sources in the Raj Bhavan were categorical that a pardon is made available only in the rarest of rare cases.
“Many people from the film industry have been calling. But there has been no official request for clemency so far. The Raj Bhavan will strictly abide by the rules,” an official said.
In the evening, the Sanjay family source said: “Bombarded by advice from all sides, the Dutts have been confused all day today.”