He broke down as soon as the judge had sentenced him to six years in jail. At that moment, Sanjay Dutt looked nothing like the movie star that he is. “I made a mistake 14 years back,” he said. “Please grant me time to surrender.”
<b1>Fourteen years ago, Dutt bought a 9-mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle from people who a month later unleashed the 1993 Mumbai blasts that killed 257 people. On Tuesday, in the central Mumbai court that had been set up to try those people, the past came back to haunt Dutt. “Everyone makes mistakes,” Judge Pramod Kode told him, “but the element of criminality in you is incurable.”
Towards evening, Dutt was taken away to Arthur Road Jail. He had asked for three things: that he be allowed to call his daughter Trishaala in New York; that he be imprisoned in Arthur Road Jail; and that the police do not hustle him. All three requests were granted.
Actress Saira Bano: My God... what a punishment! We are totally heartbroken.
Actress Kirron Kher: I am shocked and saddened. He has suffered enough for 14 years (and) he has been exemplary in behaviour.
Producer-director Mahesh Bhatt: It's a body blow. I cannot say the sentence was not fair... (but) six years is too strong.
Actor Suniel Shetty: He has the prayers of the entire film fraternity with him. We believe him completely.
Actor to move apex court
Dutt’s lawyer Farhana Shah said the actor would move the Supreme Court, asking for Judge Kode’s order to be set aside, and plead for bail till the petition is disposed of.
Tuesday’s sentencing brought the curtains down on the longest running trial in India’s judicial history. Twelve convicts have been given death; 20 have been sentenced to life imprisonment.
A little earlier, as Russi Mulla — who had disposed of the pistol that Dutt had bought was let off on probation — things had not looked so grim for the star. Soon after, Judge Kode ruled out probation for Dutt. From then on, the actor hung on to the judge’s every word.
When the sentence was announced, Dutt looked dazed and bewildered. “I had thought my probation application would be accepted, so I did not sort out my personal and family matters,” he said.
<b2>The judge was in no mood to relent. He said he saw a pattern in Dutt’s conduct at the time and that even if he had bought the guns for self-protection, he had committed a crime by buying them illegally. “Everybody commits an offence but involving others in the crime is a serious offence.”
Dutt was fined Rs. 25,000. Kersi Adejania, who had melted the AK-56 at Dutt’s request, was sentenced to two years in prison but was later released on bail. Yusuf Nulwalla, an old friend of Dutt’s, and the man who had carried the guns away from the actor’s home and helped in their melting, was sentenced to five years in jail and fined Rs. 25,000.