Sanjay Dutt may have had to spend Diwali in jail but on Tuesday, the Supreme Court had some good news for him.
The court accepted the bail plea of the actor, serving a six-year jail sentence aftre his conviction in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, after CBI counsel and Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said there was no opposition as his case fell in the non-TADA category. Subramanium said that though he had no written instructions from the prosecuting agency, he was duty-bound as an officer of the court to balance all interests. Subsequently, the bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan granted Dutt bail.
The court will now hear the blasts case after six months, implying that the actor will be a free man for that period at least. However, his lawyer Karan Singh said that his client would have to stay in jail for another two days as the procedural formalities will take some time.
Dutt has to submit his passport before the special TADA court and furnish the bail bond to the satisfaction of the presiding judge. He is also required to report to the Special Task Force once a week.
Sixteen other convicts were also granted bail, three of who were found guilty under the Arms Act like Dutt. One of them is a 65-year-old woman convicted of charges similar to the actor.
Dutt’s friend and producer Samir Hingora was one of 14 convicts granted bail on the grounds that they were charged with secondary offences under TADA and had undergone more than half of their sentences. Hingora was found guilty of supplying an AK-56 rifle and pistol to the actor at the instance of Anees Ibrahim, brother of Dawood Ibrahim. Sentenced to nine years rigorous imprisonment, he has already served six years in judicial custody.
Although the court refused bail to life convicts charged with the principal offence under TADA, including members of the Memon family, it allowed the application of custom officer Somnath Thapa, who is suffering from lung cancer, on humanitarian grounds.
In all, 25 convicts had approached the Supreme Court for bail, seven of them lifers.
Dutt has been in Pune’s Yerwada jail since October 23, when the special TADA judge handed him a copy of the judgment.