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'93 blast case: TADA convicts pleads for leniency

Their arguments is based on quantum of sentence to be awarded to them, reports Sunil Shivdasani.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2007 00:29 IST
Sunil Shivdasani
Sunil Shivdasani

Seventy persons held guilty by a designated TADA court in the 1993 bomb blast
case have pleaded for leniency in their arguments on quantum of sentence to be awarded to them while actor Sanjay Dutt, convicted under Arms Act for possessing an AK-56 rifle and 9 mm pistol, would give his submissions on punishment next week.

Under CrPc, the court has to hear the arguments of those held guilty and prosecution before awarding punishment. The judge PD Kode is currently engaged in this exercise with the defence putting up submissions on behalf of 70 accused and CBI yet to unfold its arguments.

The court has held 100 persons, including Sanjay, guilty of various offences and acquitted 23 others due to lack of evidence. Of the 100, seventy have put up their submissions while others have to argue on quantum of sentence.

A team of defence lawyers representing Sanjay would on January 18 give their submissions on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to the actor. He has been convicted under the Arms Act and faces punishment ranging from five years to ten years.

The actor had on last occasion hinted that he would invoke section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act to seek release on bond of good conduct but the court had asked him to make an application in this regard.

So far the actor has kept his cards close to chest and has not filed the application as yet but he is expected to do so before January 18, his lawyer Farhana Shah told Hindustan Times.

"On that day, we may ask for more time for Sanjay to surrender and we are also considering to move an application under Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act but a final decision in this regard is yet to be taken. We shall also argue on the quantum of sentence", she said.

An expert team of defence lawyers comprising VR Manohar and Satish Maneshinde would represent the actor, assisted by Farhana Shah and Karan Singh.

Under the Probation of Offenders Act, the court is empowered to use its discretion to release an accused on bond of good conduct for a period not exceeding three years and during this period it may call the accused and award the sentence to him. Sanjay is trying to invoke this Act to seek his release in order to defer the sentence for the time being.

In the normal course, he would have to go to jail once the court announces the punishment to be awarded to him as he has been convicted under the Arms Act. But if the court uses its discretion and releases him on bond of good conduct, Sanjay may get a breather, legal experts feel.

The court held Sanjay guilty on November 28 last year for possessing an AK-56 rifle and 9 mm pistol. However he was acquitted of charges under TADA (P) act as the court ruled that he was not a terrorist and in his own confession the actor had admitted to possess arms in self-defence.

It is the case of CBI that gangster Abu Salem and some other accused had delivered arms to Sanjay at the instance of Dawood Ibrahim and his brother Anees, the masterminds behind the 1993 bomb blasts.

Meanwhile, prime conspirator Mustafa Dossa, currently lodged in central prison, has urged the court for permission to visit Leelavati hospital in police escort for general check up on the advice of physician. However, CBI objected saying it had intelligence reports to indicate that he would abscond if sent to hospital.

It urged the court to reject his plea and the judge would decide his application tomorrow. The court also deferred to January 20 the bail plea of three Memon brothers, Essa, Yusufand Yakub who have been convicted in the same case. All of them are brothers of prime absconding accused Tiger Memon, close lieutenant of Dawood Ibrahim.

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First Published: Jan 10, 2007 00:09 IST