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Sanjay Dutt to appear in court Tuesday
Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, convicted for the possession of illegal arms in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, will appear before a special court here Tuesday - the day his bail extension expires.
On his fourth reprieve after being convicted for possession of arms and ammunition in the serial bombing case, Sanjay is likely to be greeted with slogans and banners outside the special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Preventive) Acts (TADA) court by family members of his co-accused.
Sanjay's co-accused, now convicted in the bombing case and who had been very supportive to him during his 14 years of trial, feel the actor has gotten away easy because of his "political connections and stardom".
"We will organise a protest against any other extension of Sanjay Dutt's surrender in front of the Arthur Road jail Tuesday. When our relatives have been asked to surrender, how can Sanjay get away so easily for the same offence?" asked a close associate of one of the convicts.
Mario Thomas, the general secretary of Jan Morcha that is organising the protest outside the high-security Arthur Road jail, said that family members and relatives of blast convicts would form the majority of the protestors Tuesday.
Sanjay's counsel cargued that the actor clearly qualified for being let off on probation because of an unblemished conduct during the 14 years of bail.
"The court should exercise its discretionary power after examining the circumstances in which the offence was committed, the nature of the offence and the character of the offender," Manohar told IANS Monday.
On Jan 18, the TADA court had extended Sanjay's surrender date till Feb 6 after he evoked the Probation of Offenders Act. Special judge Promod Kode had also granted him time till Feb 6 to continue arguments seeking probation. The act allows a convict to evade imprisonment on grounds of good behaviour.
The TADA court had convicted Sanjay under sections 3 and section 7 of the Arms Act on Nov 23, but absolved him of charges of terror conspiracy that led to the March 12, 1993 serial bombings that killed at least 257 people in Mumbai.
The "Munnabhai" star, who faces between five and 10 years in jail, was given time to surrender till Tuesday on the grounds that he had to fulfil his shooting commitments and spend time with teenaged daughter Trishala who had come from the US.
The prosecution had submitted that Sanjay's case could not be considered under the Probation of Offenders Act as he was in "conscious possession" of three AK-47s and a pistol, and was aware of the likely consequences of his action.
Sanjay, who already possessed licensed pistols, had acquired an AK-56 allegedly from mobster Abu Salem's aide Ibrahim Mussa in January 1993 as he thought he needed self-protection.
He was arrested in April that year, a month after the blasts rocked Mumbai. Sanjay has spent nearly 16 months in jail in two stretches since then.
The latest among the bigwigs pleading for leniency were thespian Dilip Kumar and former Mumbai sheriff Nana Chudasama who submitted a "good character certificate" of the temperamental actor to the court on Jan 15.