Popular Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who is all set to move the Supreme Court against the six-year sentence awarded by Special Judge PD Kode in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, can question the jurisdiction of the Special Court to convict him under Arms Act once he was acquitted under TADA, legal experts said.
Supreme Court advocate Kamini Jaiswal said: "Sanjay Dutt’s case is a complete mistrial. He was not part of the bomb blast conspiracy. By clubbing him with those involved in the conspiracy the Prosecution and the Special Court has created the whole mess."
Senior counsel Siddharth Luthra agreed: "Sanjay can plead that he was not part of the conspiracy and therefore he should have been tried by a regular sessions court and not by the Special TADA Court."
He said it is open to the actor to argue that once he was acquitted of charges under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), his case should have been sent to a sessions court for trial of the offence under the Arms Act.
Luthra said Sanjay could also submit that his confession was not voluntary and the sentence was too harsh because he was not in anyway connected to the conspiracy.
Jaiswal said it was appalling to see convicts being sentenced without even being given a copy of the judgment. It is violation of provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code which itself could be a ground for setting aside the conviction.
She said apart from the mistrial and the harshness of the sentence, Sanjay can also seek setting aside of his conviction and sentence on the ground of violation of his right to speedy trial, which forms part of fundamental right.
By clubbing his trial with that of the other accused charged with criminal conspiracy in the Mumbai blast case, the prosecution made him suffer the agony of trial for 14 long years, she said.
Special Judge Kode had on November 28, 2006 cleared Sanjay Dutt of charges under TADA and criminal conspiracy but convicted him under Arms Act. On July 31, 2007, Kode sentenced the actor to six-year imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000. The actor is serving the sentence in Yerwada jail after the TADA court cancelled his bail.