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TADA court reopens; Dutt?s plea next week

Under the CrPC, the court has to hear the arguments of those held guilty and the prosecution before awarding punishment, reports Sunil Shivdasani.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2007 04:46 IST

Seventy people held guilty by a designated Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court in the 1993 serial bomb blasts case have pleaded for leniency so far, as arguments on the quantum of sentence continued in the court on Tuesday, a day after it reopened after vacation.

Actor Sanjay Dutt, convicted under the Arms Act for possessing an AK-56 rifle and a 9-mm pistol, is to make his submissions next week.

Meanwhile, prime conspirator Mustafa Dossa, currently lodged in a central prison, on Tuesday urged the court for permission to visit the Leelavati hospital for a general check up on the advice of a physician.

However, the CBI objected saying it had intelligence reports indicating Dossa would abscond if he were to be allowed to go to the hospital. It urged the court to reject his plea and the judge will decide his application on Wednesday.

The court also deferred the bail plea of three Memon brothers, Essa, Yusuf and Yakub to January 20. All of them are brothers of prime absconding accused Tiger Memon, a close lieutenant of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

Under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the court has to hear the arguments of those held guilty and the prosecution before awarding punishment.

Judge P.D. Kode is currently engaged in this exercise, with the defence putting up submissions on behalf of 70 of the convicted and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) yet to start unfolding its arguments.

The court has held 100 persons guilty of various offences and acquitted 23 others for lack of evidence.

A team of defence lawyers representing Dutt will on January 18 make their submissions on the quantum of sentence. The actor faces between five and 10 years behind bars. But on a previous occasion, Dutt had hinted that he would invoke Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act to seek release on a bond of good conduct.

So far Dutt has kept his cards close to his chest and has not filed the application. But he is expected to do so before January 18, his lawyer Farhana Shah said.

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

The actor will be represented by an expert team of defence lawyers, comprising of V.R. Manohar and Satish Maneshinde, 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 a bond of good conduct for a period not exceeding three years. During this period the court may also call the accused and award the sentence to him. Dutt is trying to invoke this act to seek his release in order to defer the sentence for the time being.

Dutt was held guilty by the court on November 28. He was acquitted of charges under the TADA Act.

Email Sunil Shivdasani: sunil.shivdasani@hindustantimes.com