MUMBAI: Sanjay Dutt musth resignation on May 16 and go to jail after the Supreme Court on Friday discounted his review petition, said legal experts. The actor Sanjay Dutt , out on bail, has to serve the difference of his five-year sentence handed by the apex court when it upheld his conviction under the Arms Act for illegal possession of weapons.
A division bench of Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said there was no “merit” in Dutt’s plea and he had not made out any grounds to make the judges reconsider their March 21 judgment.
The legal experts said a Presidential pardon or an application for early release from prison are Dutt’s only feasible options now.
“Sanjay has exhausted most of the available legal options to avoid jail, and he will have to go to prison to serve the remainder of his term,” said an advocate, who is part of the actor’s legal team. The curative petition option is there, but lawyers agree the grounds are weak. Sources in his legal team said they could file an application to seek more time to surrender, citing his commitment to shoot films. But his team had given an undertaking that the actor would not seek more time when the Supreme Court gave him four more weeks to surrender on April 17.
The actor’s legal team and family have now pinned their hopes on applications seeking a pardon for Dutt from the President/governor of Maharashtra. Already 60 applications on Dutt have been filed with governor D Sankaranarayanan, including 25 opposing pardon. They have been forwarded to the state home department.
Press Council chairman Markandey Katju, also a former SC judge, has filed an additional application seeking suspension of the sentence till a decision on the mercy plea.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told TOI that Sanjay would have to surrender, and once in jail could plead either for leniency or early release from prison in the form of state and special remission. The state could order premature release from jail.
The Supreme Court had sentenced Dutt to five years in prison. He has spent just over 17 months in three different spells in the past 20 years, both as an undertrial as well as a convict when his appeal was pending in the apex court. He is looking at an actual imprisonment of up to two years and nine months. Dutt will be eligible for total remission (extra days added to the prison term) ordinarily of nine months and 21-odd days, which when added to the two years and nine months, would complete his five-year term.
Dutt was charged under the anti-terror law, Tada, in the 1993 blasts case. A special court in 2007 acquitted him of the terror charges, but convicted him for illegal possession of arms. In March 2013, the apex court upheld the Tada court’s order, but reduced the prison term to five years.
The apex court on Friday also dismissed the review petitions filed by six other convicts — Yusuf Nulwalla, Khalil Nazir, Dawood Yusuf Khan, Shaikh Asif Yusuf, Muzammil Umar Kadri and Ahmed Shaikh.
The Supreme Court dismissed Sanjay Dutt’s petition to review its verdict convicting him in the1993 blasts case and sentencing him to five years in jail. Friday’s decision means Dutt would have to surrender on May 16 and go to prison, said legal experts.