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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sanjay Dutt sentenced to 6-years' RI

Actor Sanjay Dutt arrives at the Special TADA court in Mumbai on Tuesday. He was sentenced to 6-years' RI for illegal possession of weapons.

Mumbai, July 31 (PTI): Actor Sanjay Dutt was today sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for six years for illegal possession of weapons that were given to him by associates of gangster Dawood Ibrahim ahead of the 1993 serial blasts here.

Dutt, who spent 16 months in prison after his arrest in April 1993 and was free on bail, was also fined Rs 25,000 by the special TADA court of Judge P D Kode.

The court rejected Dutt's application seeking exemption from a prison term under the Probation of Offenders (POA) Act.

Dutt, who was seated in the back of the court when the sentence was announced, was visibly shocked as the judge gave the reasoning for his decision not to grant him relief under the POA Act.

After pronouncing the sentence, the court cancelled the bail granted to Dutt and told police to take him into custody.

Dutt was convicted in November last year under the Arms Act for the illegal possession of a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle but was acquitted of more serious terrorism charges under the stringent TADA law.

Initially, the court granted Dutt's associate Rusi Mulla benefit under the POA Act but then announced that the actor and two others would not be eligible to get relief under the same law.

The court observed that Dutt had not merely committed a criminal act but also told three others to commit criminal acts on his behalf.

After a court clerk read out the sentence, Dutt was seen chatting with fellow convicts and friends Yusuf Nulwalla and Kersi Adajania.

Commenting upon affidavits filed by public personalities like actor Dilip Kumar in support of Dutt, Judge Kode said these are of no use if there exists material which says that the actor has indulged in a criminal act.

Dismissing the defence's argument that the weapons were acquired by Dutt for self-defence, Kode said such an acquisition cannot be called "noble", and is contrary to the law and indicates scant respect for the law.

"I must say for every citizen, laws of the nation shall be respected. If you don't, I don't expect you to be called a moral person," Kode said.

Kode also observed it was an "eminently dangerous act" as the weapon possessed by Dutt was capable of mass destruction though the accused had not used the weapons.

Dutt acquired the weapons to "protect" his family in the aftermath of sectarian violence that erupted in Mumbai following the demolition of the babri mosque in late 1992.

Kode said the character of the accused is very important while considering if they deserved relief under the POA Act.

He pointed out that apart from possessing the weapons, Dutt was a close acquaintance of Anees Ibrahim and attended a party hosted by Dawood Ibrahim in Dubai.

Regarding the nature of the crime, Kode said generally, crime happens at the hands of any one man but Dutt drew another person to commit a crime which showed "high element of criminality."

Kode, however, said the crimes committed by Dutt and his friends Adajania and Nulwalla were not "anti-social, ghastly, inhuman, immoral or pre-planned" and did not cause any harm to the general public.

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