Meena Menon

But TADA judge acquits him of conspiracy, terrorism charges in 1993 blasts case

  • Sanjay pleads with judge: I have never come before and asked you for anything
  • I have to take care of my daughter; crores would be stuck unless I complete my films

    MUMBAI: The designated TADA court here on Tuesday convicted Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt under the Indian Arms Act in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case. But it absolved him of conspiracy charges and terrorism under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

    Judge P.D. Kode said he did not find Mr. Dutt to be a terrorist. He said the confessions of the actors' co-accused had come to his rescue. While acquitting him of conspiracy and three other charges under the TADA Act, the judge said he was guilty under Sections 3 and 7 of the Indian Arms Act read with Sections 25 1A and 1B for possessing weapons, and that too without licence. He could attract a maximum punishment of 10 years and a minimum of five years. He had already spent one year and four months in jail.

    Relies on confession

    The actor was charged under Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and three Sections under the TADA Act, apart from the Indian Arms Act. Mr. Justice Kode said he relied on the actor's confession recorded by the then Deputy Commissioner of Police K.L. Bishnoi, apart from confessions of the co-accused and four witnesses. He accepted the confession, except the parts negated by other evidence. He also accepted self-defence as the reason for Mr. Dutt acquiring and possessing the weapons as stated in the actor's confession and other evidence.

    As soon as the verdict was passed, Mr. Dutt, who was in the witness box, said he was the only working member of his family. However, the judge interrupted him and said he would be given a chance to speak later.

    His lawyer Satish Maneshinde later made an application seeking that Mr. Dutt be given four weeks to surrender. He pleaded that the actor's 18-year-old daughter was studying law in New York and though she lived with her grandparents, he would have to take care of her. If he were in custody for long, her education would suffer, Mr. Maneshinde submitted.

    Mr. Dutt also asked for time to take care of his father's estates and make some arrangements for his sisters as well. He needed time for his assignments in various films, which were almost complete. He said crores of rupees would get stuck and many people would be deprived of their income unless he completed the films.

    While Mr. Justice Kode said none of these grounds appealed to him, Mr. Dutt made a forceful plea. He said that after his father's death, the whole burden of the family was on him. "You can help, I have never come before and asked you for anything," pleaded the actor, with tears in his eyes, after the judge extended his bail till December 19.

    According to the charges under Section 3 (3) of the TADA Act filed against the actor, between January 1993 and the first week of April 1993, he had acquired three AK 56 rifles, ammunition, a 9-mm pistol, cartridges and hand grenades unauthorisedly.

    Under Section 5 of the TADA Act, Mr. Dutt was charged with possessing weapons in the Greater Bombay area, which was specified as a Notified Area under clause (f) of sub-section 1 of Section 2 of the TADA. In addition, he was charged under the Indian Arms Act, 1959 and the Explosive Substances Act and Section 6 of the TADA Act.

    Earlier, dressed in a checked shirt and jeans, the 47-year-old actor arrived along with Baba Siddiqui, Minister of State for Labour, and Ajay Marwah, his associate, who was acquitted on Monday.

    Mr. Dutt, who looked a bit relieved though tense after the verdict, did not speak to the waiting media and left with his sister Priya Dutt.

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