Apex court again defers hearing on Sanjay Dutt's bail plea

The Supreme Court Tuesday deferred yet again hearing on the bail plea of Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, who is undergoing a six-year term in Pune's Yerawada jail for possessing firearms during the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal adjourned the hearing on the actor's bail plea, saying it would hear the plea next Tuesday along with that of other convicts in the case who have sought bail.

"We will pass a general order for all the convicts who have come here seeking bail," said the bench, adjourning the matter.

The bench brushed aside Dutt's counsel V.R. Manhoar's plea that he would not take long in concluding his arguments for bail pending the court's decision on his plea against his conviction.

The bench directed Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian to file a chart detailing the names and offences of all the convicts in the Mumbai serial terror bombings who had come to the apex court challenging their convictions.

The bench also asked the law officer to detail in the chart the sentences imposed upon the convicts and the Central Bureau of Investigation's stand on releasing them on bail.

In his preliminary submissions, Subramanian told the bench that out of 100 convicts, only six till now have come to the court challenging their conviction.

He told the court that 96 have been convicted on various charges under the stringent anti-terror law, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

The other convicts who have approached the court include Yusuf Mohsin Nulwalla, Zaibunnisa Anwar Kazi and Samir Hingora.

Dutt had moved the apex court Oct 25 challenging his conviction for possessing illegal arms in the run up to the 1993 Mumbai serial bombing in the wake of the demolition of the historical Babri mosque at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

Challenging his conviction, Dutt had also sought his release on bail pending a decision on his plea.

Dutt has challenged his conviction on the ground that he was forced to make the confession under police duress and had retracted it during the trial.

On July 31, the actor was sentenced to a six-year jail term after being found guilty.

He was first taken in custody July 31. However, Judge P.D Kode of the Mumbai anti-terror court had failed to hand him a copy of the judgement as well as to other convicts.

The Supreme Court on Aug 20 granted him major succour, freeing him temporarily along with five others till delivery of the copies of the judgement.

The Mumbai court was able to give a copy Oct 22 and Dutt was taken into custody again.

Indo-Asian News Service