Mumbai: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld actor Sanjay Dutt's conviction under the Arms Act but reduced his sentence from six years to five years in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. Dutt has to undergo three-and-a-half years imprisonment as he has already spent 18 months in jail earlier. The apex court found the actor guilty of acquiring illegal weapons from those blamed for the bombings in Mumbai that killed 257 people and was given four weeks to surrender.
The immediate course available for Dutt is to file a review petition in the Supreme Court within four weeks. If the review petition is dismissed or rejected by the court, a curative petition can also be filed. In a curative petition the lawyer will need to present a new fact related to the case not presented before the court earlier. The last option before Dutt will be of reaching out to the Maharashtra Governor who could remit his sentence. But that would depend on the recommendation of the State government.
"I have already suffered for 20 years and been in jail for 18 months. If they want me to suffer more, I have to be strong. I am heart broken because today along with me, my three children and my wife and my family will undergo the punishment," the actor said in a statement.
Meanwhile, hinting at misuse of power by Dutt's father Sunil Dutt, former Mumbai Police commissioner MN Singh, who investigated the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, said that the latter "pleaded" with the government to show mercy to his son and also said that dropping charges against Sanjay under TADA was a big mistake. "I will say one thing without any bias. I am not a friend or an enemy of Sanjay Dutt. He had been booked under TADA. But later on, those charges under TADA were dropped and he was booked under the Arms Act. I will say that dropping the charges against him under TADA was a big mistake."
When asked whether there was any political pressure on the Mumbai Police from the actor's family, he said, "I won't say pressure, but his father was constantly pleading with us and people in the government and there were discussions in the government that some mercy should be shown. However, we were steadfast."
The Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced one of the blasts' masterminds Yakub Memon's to death. Ten others, who were used to plant the bombs, got some relief as the the apex court commuted their death penalty to life term. Yakub was convicted in 1993 blast case and is the brother of Ibrahim Mushtaq 'Tiger' Memon, one of the prime accused of the attacks which killed 257 people.
The apex court also upheld Sanjay Dutt's conviction under the Arms Act but reduced his sentence from six years to five years. Dutt has already undergone 18 months of imprisonment and will now be in jail for 3.5 years.
Reacting to the Supreme Court's judgement, Dutt said, "Will see the copy and now I am looking for legal options. I still believe in the judiciary, my family is with me and I am still strong."
Dutt's counsel Satish Maneshinde said he spoke to the actor who accepted the judgement as it is. "I have spoken to Sanjay Dutt. We accept the judgement as it is. Sanjay Dutt has said that he has accepted the judgement with humility. Another three and a half years are left, will see whatever happens as and when. Sanjay Dutt is strong enough. We will have to see what the court has said after seeing the judgement," he said. His sister Priya Dutt, who reached the court early on Thursday morning, said after the court verdict, "I do not know what to say."