There is good news for Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who has been sentenced to six years in jail in connection with the March 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai. He is likely to remain free for yet another month, albeit due to a legal technicality, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Dutt, 48, one of Bollywood's most sought-after actors, was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court last month following his appeal that he had not yet been served a copy of the judgment by a special anti-terrorist court in Mumbai, which sentenced him in July.
The special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) Court had in November last year convicted Dutt under the Arms Act for illegally possessing an AK-56 rifle during the serial bombings that claimed 257 lives. But Dutt escaped the terrorist tag and was acquitted of all charges under the stringent TADA Act.
Earlier last month, Dutt's legal team appealed to the apex court that he be allowed bail until he was served a copy of the judgment by the TADA court.
His counsels contended they could not argue his case without a copy of the judgment and the apex court freed him on bail till Sep 27, the day the special court said it would give him the copy of its verdict.
Sources at the special TADA court and the actor's lawyers Wednesday told IANS "it was very unlikely that the copy of the judgment would be served to the actor, who is presently on bail."
"As things stand, we don't expect the judgment copy to be served until mid-October. So till then he will be out on jail at least," Dutt's counsel Karan Singh told IANS on Wednesday.
Confirming the "unavoidable delay", a senior official of the special court told IANS: "The first of the copies of the judgment would most possibly be out around Oct 15, and since Sanjay Dutt was among the last of the 100 convicts to be sentenced, it might take a bit longer. So till then, the actor will remain out of jail."
Once the special court serves the judgment copy, it will be back to Pune's Yerawada Jail for the macho actor who spent 22 nights there. Dutt was shifted to Pune jail from the high-security Arthur Road jail in central Mumbai after being sentenced July 31.
The popular actor - "Sanju Baba" to his Bollywood fraternity and "Munnabhai" to his fans - was among 100 persons held guilty by the TADA court. It sentenced 12 people to death and 20 to life in prison and handed out varied prison terms and fines to the others.