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Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 28, 2012
Citing several community service intiatives taken by him, Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt on Tuesday made a fervent plea for his release on probation in case the Supreme Court did not allow his appeal against special TADA court verdict convicting the actor in the 1993 Bombay blasts case.

The special court in Mumbai had on July 31, 2007 convicted Dutt of a lesser offence under the Arms Act for possessing a weapon illegally.

He was, however, acquitted under the stringent anti-terror law - Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985.

Admitting his appeal against the Special Court's order, the SC had on November 27, 2007 released him on bail.

Dutt remained in jail for four years including the four month period he spent after his conviction.

Bringing out the humane side of Dutt, senior advocate Harish Salve and counsel Harishankar said the 1993 incident was the first and last in the actor's life.

"It has been 18 years and now he is involved in several charitable activities," they told a bench headed by justice P Sathasivam.

An additional affidavit filed on Dutt's behalf lists several community service programmes in which the actor is involved.

He has been helping drug addicts undergoing rehabilitation program by narrating his personal experience in fighting the abuse and is also on the board of directors of Cry and Save the Children Foundation. Dutt is the chairman of Nargis Dutt Cancer Foundation and raises funds for the free treatment of AIDS patients.

Salve contended if Dutt's confession under TADA was believed then the court should consider releasing him under the Probation of Offenders' Act.

"It shows he took possession of a weapon when he was under tremendous mental pressure. Circumstances were such that he was forced to take the step. He had young sisters and his family was under threat. He got scared because there was no police available. But he did not use the weapon but later destroyed it," the senior counsel said.

Dutt's house was then in the vicinity of a veteran Bollywood star's residence where persons from Muslim community were regular visitors, he added.

When the bench sought to know if Dutt's release under Probation of Offender's Act would impact other convicts' bracketed in the same category, Salve said: "That is upto your Lordships."