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Apr 18, 2013 at 09:33am IST

After Sanjay Dutt, will Zaibunissa get more time to surrender?

New Delhi: A day after actor Sanjay Dutt was granted four more weeks to surrender, the Supreme Court will hear another 1993 Bombay blasts convict Zaibunissa Kazi's plea on Thursday. Zaibunissa Kazi along with four other convicts Altaf Ali Sayeed, Essa Memon, Yusuf Khan, and Yusuf Nulwalla on Wednesday sought more time to surrender on humanitarian grounds.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday dismissed Zaibunissa's plea to extend the time to surrender and had directed her to surrender by the given deadline of April 18. Zaibunissa, a cancer patient, had asked for an extension based on the grounds that her clemency plea is still pending before President Pranab Mukherjee.

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Zaibunissa was charged for possessing illegal arms and ammunition and also under TADA. Zaibunisa's petition was outrightly rejected while Sanjay Dutt has been granted four weeks reprieve. The question is whether this shows unequal treatement by the law.

Reacting to the court's relief to Dutt, Zaibunissa's daughter on Wednesday said she wished she or her mother was a celebrity. "It is very important to be a celebrity in this country is all I can say," she said. "I have not given up hope, I will continue my fight on humanitarian grounds," she added.

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71-year-old Zaibunissa's sentence of five years by the Bombay High court was upheld by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had said that all convicts should surrender within four weeks of its upholding the Bombay High Court judgement.

Zaibunisa was charged for possessing illegal arms and ammunition and also under TADA. Former Supreme Court judge and Press Council of India chief Markandey Katju had made a representation to the President on behalf of Kazi on March 18 and on behalf of other two on April 10.

While the court had rejected Zaibunisa's plea on Tuesday, it gave four weeks to Sanjay Dutt on 'humanitarian grounds' on Wednesday. The apex court accepted Sanjay Dutt's plea of humanitarian grounds raised by him for extending the time for surrender. "Considering the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case and reasons stated in the petition, we are not inclined to extend the time by six months. However, we extend the time by four weeks from tomorrow. It is made clear that no further extension will be granted," a bench comprising justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said.

The bench also noted in its order that senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Dutt, has agreed to the same that no further extension will be sought. At the outset, Salve said the plea by Dutt is only on grounds of mercy and not on any Constitutional rights. No sooner had Salve commenced his submission, the bench said,"You cannot say your client was unaware of the judgement of the designated court in 2007."

Salve said that a little extension of time to Dutt to surrender would help him to wind up his commitments. "It happens in life" was how Salve described the entire episode.

It now remains to be seen whether the court will give any relief to Zaibunissa and other convicts.