The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Softly, softly on Sanjay

New Delhi, Nov. 29: On judgment day yesterday, a CBI officer took a mystery call on the court premises. Thereafter, the public prosecutor, who had followed the officer out of the courtroom, appeared to soften up on Sanjay Dutt’s appeal to extend his bail before Judge P.D. Kode.

Asked by a reporter about the call, the CBI officer spoke about not letting imagination run riot. “The call could have been from anywhere,” he was quoted as saying.

From Munnabhai, for instance' Or from somewhere in Delhi'

Official sources said the CBI could do the unexpected when Sanjay, let off with an arms act rap and absolved of terrorism charges, is produced before Kode’s court for sentencing. Despite being the agency that has gathered the evidence against him, it might plead that Sanjay be spared harsh punishment.

Under the arms act, the Lage Raho Munnabhai actor faces a minimum of five to a maximum of 10 years’ jail.

The prosecution might even appeal for no further punishment since Sanjay has already served 16 months in jail. If this argument does not work, the CBI is likely to seek as mild a punishment as possible for the actor who, it believes, has reformed himself.

Shiv Sena head Bal Thackeray thinks so, too. Thackeray, who helped get Sanjay released in 1994 after an appeal from his father, the late Sunit Dutt, has written: “Today, Sanjay is popular as Munnabhai but back then he was a spoilt brat.”

By some strange logic, it seems Munnabhai is helping Sanjay. It must be said though that his sister Priya is a Congress MP and his father had been one for long years.

The CBI’s lawyers are likely to point out in court that Sanjay was not part of the 1993 serial blasts, though he had stocked weapons, nor did he have any intention of taking part in terror strikes. Kode had accepted this when he absolved Sanjay of the charges of conspiracy and aiding and abetting terrorism.

It is being said the CBI will also not plead for death sentence for the women accused.


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