The Supreme Court on Wednesday fixed August 10 for hearing Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s plea to suspend his sentence and grant him bail while the apex court finishes the hearing on his appeal. The bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan posted the hearing on Dutt’s application after his counsel, senior advocate Fali S Nariman mentioned the matter before the court.
Nariman told the court it was an urgent matter and urged for an early hearing on Dutt’s prayer to grant him interim bail. He said the actor was in custody without receiving copy of the conviction judgement. Nariman requested for a hearing on Friday to which the bench agreed.
Dutt had on Tuesday filed his appeal challenging his conviction and sentence under the Arms Act for being in illegal possession of arms during the 1993 Mumbai riots. While claiming the special TADA judge PD Kode had erred in pronouncing the judgement without any credible evidence, Dutt has said no arms or ammunitions were recovered from his residence.
Seeking his release on the ground that there is no likelihood of his appeal being heard at any early date, as the record of the case is extremely voluminous, the actor has said the agony of a protracted trial itself constitutes a sentence. Dutt has sought his bail on the basis of the probation officer’s report that can grant him relief under the Probation of Offenders Act (POA). According to his plea he has been on bail for over 12 years and during this period has not violated the conditions stipulated in the bail order by the apex court.
Dutt’s ground in his 40-page appeal is the unavailability of the conviction order. He has requested the court to exempt him for filing a copy of the main judgement and amend the grounds in the future, once the final judgement is made available to him.
Meanwhile, advocate of another convict, Mohammad Ahmad Sheikh, who has in his appeal challenged Dutt's acquittial under TADA approached the Supreme Court on Wednesday claiming his case has not got listed for a hearing despite the fact that he was the first convict to petition the apex court. However, the bench declined to entertain his plea and advised him to mention his case before the bench headed by the Chief Justice on Friday.