Mumbai: Actor Sanjay Dutt will remain in the 'anda' (egg-shaped) cell in the high-security block at the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai for some time, a top police officer said on Monday, as authorities in Maharashtra debate whether to shift him out of Mumbai. "We will take some more time to take a call on whether to shift Dutt or not. He will not be shifted anywhere in the near future," Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) Meera Borwankar said.
The 53-year-old Bollywood star is currently lodged in the 'anda' cell after he was brought to the Arthur Road jail on May 16 following his surrender before the expiry of the Supreme Court-set deadline to serve his remaining sentence in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
After his surrender, there was speculation that be may be shifted to the Yerwada jail in Pune. The reasons attributed to the uncertainty as to where Dutt will be finally lodged were because information was still being gathered on number of convicts, security conditions, presence of inmates linked to underworld in various jails in the state like those located in Taloja (Navi Mumbai), Yerwada (Pune), Thane, Nagpur and Nashik. "The authorities are studying various aspects, particularly security issues, before taking any decision on the actor's shifting," a jail official added. Though there are some convicts lodged in the city jail, usually it is used to house undertrials.
Dutt has to serve 42 more months in jail following his conviction in the 1993 case being upheld by the Supreme Court, which, however, reduced his sentence by one year (to five years from six) in March this year. He has already served 18 months of his sentence.
The actor has been restless at nights, reading religious books, police said. Dutt's lawyer had a made an oral plea the TADA court to shift him from the high-security egg-shaped cell where he was feeling 'suffocated'. "The 'anda' cell does not have enough light and Dutt felt suffocated due to insufficient ventilation," Rizwan Merchant told the TADA court, a day after he was put up at Arthur Road jail. Dutt, however, has not filed a written application.
Merchant had said that this cell was generally used to keep the hardened criminals or those arrested on terrorism-related charges. Dutt, he said, was not convicted under TADA, and was not a terrorist.