Sanjay Dutt gets relief, Supreme Court gives four weeks to surrender

Sanjay DuttActor Sanjay Dutt has to undergo three-and-a-half-year jail term for illegally possessing firearms in connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

A day before his deadline to surrender ran out, Sanjay Dutt got another four weeks' time from the Supreme Court to turn himself in to serve out the remaining three and a half years of his jail term.

A bench led by Justice P Sathasivam rejected the 53-year-old actor's plea for a six-month extension, but deemed it "reasonable" to give him another four weeks in view of the "peculiar" facts and circumstances of the case, and the various arguments cited in his plea.

Dutt had sought relief on "humanitarian" grounds, saying producers had invested around Rs 278 crore in projects involving him, and he needed 196 days to complete the shooting.

The court had on March 21 given him four weeks to surrender to serve the remainder of his five-year jail term for illegally possessing arms in the 1993 Bombay serial blasts case.

The court on Wednesday made it clear that Dutt would get no more extensions, and recorded an assurance from his counsel, senior advocate Harish Salve, that no such plea would be moved.

Rejecting CBI's arguments against granting Dutt's plea, the bench held that Article 142 (extraordinary jurisdiction) of the constitution and Section 148 (enlargement of time in court's discretion) of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) "empowered" it to allow such prayers. The CPC allows extending the period up to thirty days in all.

"We know our Laxman Rekha of four weeks and we will not cross it. Extending the period will not amount to modifying our judgment. Here he (Dutt) has argued only on mercy. You (CBI) need not have further apprehensions and we will deal with every case on its own merit," the court said.

Wednesday's order is the first decision by the bench on a petition for extension of time to surrender by a blast convict. Similar pleas will come up for hearing on Thursday.

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